By Lee Anne Filosa
Team Excel Collegiate
When I was first asked to contribute an article to “Get It Called” regarding managing a collegiate synchronized skating team, I wasn’t sure what to write about. Would anyone find what I had to say interesting? Where would I even begin? Managing a collegiate synchronized skating team has practically been a part-time job for me over the past 3 years, through which I have experienced a lot of ups and downs—just as a rookie manager of any business would. As I pondered the topic of my article for two weeks, a million ideas came to mind, but I thought the most useful information I could provide was the top 3 skills that are important in team management.
- Enthusiasm: One of the most important skills involved with running a team is to be able to pump up your teammates at off ice, on ice, and competitions. Maintaining a positive attitude all the time is difficult, especially if you have a lot going on in your life outside of skating, but it is absolutely crucial. One of my favorite ways to psych up the team when a competition is approaching is to bring in a white board that has an inspirational quote that is relevant to team goals, a countdown until the competition, goals for that practice, as well as some funny drawings that might be related to the team’s inside jokes. If the team manager has a good attitude, it will set the tone for the team to have a good attitude as well. Good attitude goes a long way in the success of a team.
- Stress Management: As team manager, you will encounter many stressful situations, from sick or injured skaters to messed up competition dresses to canceled practices before a competition. Although these situations may be nerve-wracking and stressful, it is important to take a deep breath and tell yourself that the hard work will pay off. You will find a solution to the problem, and learn an important lesson in the process. Every taxing situation is a learning opportunity that will help you become a more adept and successful team manager.
- Professionalism: Team managers are the representative of the team, the coach and the organization or school. Therefore, it is important that the team manager always act in a professional manner with everyone they encounter whether that may be a teammate, coach, prospective skater, volunteer, judge, etc. Professionalism is especially important when you are speaking or emailing. As a team manager, you need to express yourself and the needs of your team eloquently and respectfully while speaking to others, and you need to take an editing eye to all emails you send to make sure that it is not mean or offensive in any manner. Learning to speak and email professionally as a team manager is a useful skill set that translates well into every career that you may pursue.
As you can tell, these skills are not only important for managing a synchronized skating team; they are important life skills. Over the years, I have learned a lot from being a team manager, and it has absolutely been one of the most important experiences in my life, second to my education. I have applied these skills in many situations, from job interviews to communicating with co-workers, to group projects at school. I feel confident going forward that I will be able to succeed as a leader in many situations as a result of my experience as team manager.
By Katie Kiely
University of Vermont
As the vibrant leaves begin to fall to the rainy pavement below and the chill of wind cuts through my jacket on my walk to classes, the anticipation of the competition season gives me a glimmer of excitement in the upcoming long Vermont winter that is inevitably on its way. Of course along with the excitement has come the pressure of completing our program on time, planning last minute transportation arrangements, and making sure our dresses all fit. While it’s proving to be a difficult task to manage everything a normal college student takes on along with helping manage a student-run skating team, I have no doubt that the enjoyment I get from competing will make it all worthwhile.
Our first competition this season, Terry Connors Open, is quickly approaching and I can’t help but notice the differences between this season and my past experience of preparing for competitions. In the past, we were measured for dresses months in advanced and shown five different potential options far before competitions had crossed our minds. Last week, we brought up the fact that we still haven’t heard back from the lady designing our dresses, which left us wondering what we might be wearing for our first competition. In the past, we increased our ice time during the holiday season from ten hours a week to fifteen hours a week, to ensure we had our intricate step sequences in place. Just last night we committed to one extra hour a week in order to complete our choreography before competing. In the past, the moms booked hotels and flights nearly a year in advanced to ensure everything was set far in advanced. Last practice we were still figuring out who could drive us down to Connecticut and if we had enough seats in the cars.
Clearly my past experiences involved high levels of organization and a lot of advanced planning. But now as college students running our own organization, these details that were once taken care of behind the scenes, are all on our plate. And truthfully, I’m learning more through my experience this year than I had in the past because of the new level of personal responsibility I am facing. As part of the board, I have skaters depending on me for booked ice time, dresses to wear, and a hotel to sleep in. And while it may not be done months, or even weeks in advanced, the dresses will eventually make it here and our ice time will eventually be paid for. Despite the pressure we face as college students and athletes, the excitement and anticipation of competing is driving us through all of it, because a fun weekend on the road with teammates and hotel beds to sleep in, makes all of the hard work well worth it.