Senior Captain DramaMore by Katie Donovan
NEIRAD enilno edition
“And next year’s captains are…” are the eagerly awaited words that come out of a coach’s mouth at the end of every season at Darien High School. This is the moment when juniors find out if they will assume a team leadership role their senior year. The announcement causes stress among the players and can lead to tension throughout the teams when certain teammates are chosen over equally talented if not better teammates.
All sports at DHS have to deal with the drama of choosing captains for the upcoming season and coaches handle the selection in different ways. Girls Swimming and Diving coach, Marj Trifone, has her team vote on the captains and her general rule is that if a player can earn 50% of the vote from their team they deserve to be captain. Trifone and many other coaches at the high school have stopped announcing the new captains at their banquet. “Banquets should be celebrations and when I announced the captains there would always be a kid crying and a parent complaining and it takes away from the great night,” Trifone said. Back at school, “Athletes are in my office after the captain announcement very upset,” Trifone continued, “High schoolers struggle to realize it is not a personal vendetta against you.” Field hockey coach, Mo Minicus, is another one of the many coaches that doesn’t announce the captains at banquets anymore. The field hockey team also changes their number of captains from year to year.
Getting through the drama of captaincy is a big component of a team’s success. Everybody must pull together and work for their team’s cause and not be jealous of the few people who get to say they were captain on their college application. A controversial question is whether being a captain is coveted as truly a leadership role or a resume booster.
“I feel like the more intense the sport, the less true resume building is because you really have to love the sport to stick to it,” junior Katie Stueber said. Stueber will serve as a volleyball captain for the 2011 fall season.
Junior year is an important time when it comes to sports. For many, it is a breakout period. For others it is a time to demonstrate prominence in hopes of landing a captain position. There are only a few captain spots and with many juniors hoping to fill these vaunted positions, competition gets fierce.
In a way, it’s like office politics. There are few positions open, and people sell themselves to be voted into power. On most teams it’s the players that vote, and frequently juniors try and campaign to the squad. On other teams, the coach chooses. Captainship can turn into the brass ring kids hope to add to their college resume and occasionally help that student get recruited for their sport.
While captainship is more of a leadership role, often times, the captains are chosen because of their ability. This aspect could lead the underclassmen to have a greater drive to play their best. With that said, the superstar athletes might not be the best leaders and motivators. The most effective leaders don’t have to be the most outstanding players, but they should inspire the team to perform its best. This being said, it is hard to lead the team from the bench, and for this reason, many captains are chosen for their skills.
“For us, we pick captains based on leadership ability, commitment to the team, and for some part, the talent the person has. Sportsmanship and a desire to work for the team are really necessary,” Boys’ swim team captain, senior Jake Greene said.
In most cases, the team votes on captains. Even when the team votes, however, the coach still has a determining factor. “I think that captainship is different between boys and girls and even between teams,” Greene said. Students seem to think the competition is more intensified for captainships on girls’ teams, but all the drama does not just belong to Girls’ Field Hockey, Swimming, and Lacrosse. This year there were many complaints and drama circulating around the boy’s soccer captain picks. The head coach, Nicolae Piperea, named two captains and let the team only vote on one of them. Some of the team questioned if their coach made the right choice. “A captain is one who earns the respect of the team, has the characteristics of a strong leader, and motivates those that play alongside him or her. In this regard, I'm baffled as to why a coach should be making the selections over the team members themselves,” said junior defenseman Eric Kanigan. Another soccer teammate had more of a personal look on the selection, “I just feel like I played hard all season and I was disappointed to not be awarded captaincy,” said junior striker Geoff Hubbard, who played through injury the majority of the season, which resulted in hip surgery in the off-season.
Ultimately, the team’s objective is to win and the teams that do are the teams that work the hardest as a team and do not have individuals focused on showing off to the coach to become a captain. Although the politics and drama of the captain process can be stressful and a hindrance, the main object of High School athletics is to have fun, not to have a C on your jersey.