Being a team player: Building your resume 101

How athletics benefit on and off the field, teaching hard work, resilience

Age 21 — we are obsessed with “building” our resumes. We get involved with countless amounts of clubs and activities and spend every waking hour of our free time studying, in the hopes that our resume will stick out in the crowd. In reality, we are selling ourselves to our future employers in hopes of presenting ourselves in a manner that seems attractive in the job market. We aim to differentiate, yet do we really know what separates us from the hundreds of other applicants fighting for the same position? Probably not, but if you are a part of a team, you have already prepared to stand out in a crowd.

As an active member of the Allegheny College Women’s Soccer team, I have had the privilege to play alongside numerous dedicated, driven and confident women, all of whom have the intrinsic motivation to succeed at everything they do. I have watched teammates come and go, becoming doctors, nurses and businesswomen, reaching and exceeding their goals against adversity higher than mountains. Some have battled illness, and others have been challenged with huge amounts of loss, yet one thing remains the same — consistency.

There is nothing like watching those around you, those who you consider your closest friends, grow throughout the years into strong young adults. That strength is what being a part of a team supports and encourages growth, and that is exactly why I consider it to be the biggest “resume builder” you could have under your belt.

I have been on countless numbers of sports teams throughout my athletic career. From the age of 6, my parents had me involved in every athletic activity they could afford. From Pee Wee T-ball to karate, and every sport that involves some type of ball, I have had the opportunity to meet and play alongside hundreds of people, some of whom I am still very close with, and some of whom I still play alongside to this very day.

What I have learned throughout the past 16 years of athletics, through self-reflection and through watching my teammates around me, is that being a part of a team teaches you important and crucial life lessons that benefit you outside the realm of athletics. It is important to note that these lessons are the same for any team, whether it is a sports team or not — the mentality is the same.

Being a part of the team teaches you the obvious, stereotypical lessons of hard work and resilience, but it also teaches you much more than what is visible on the surface.

First of all, being a part of a team gives you a sense of identity and a firm foundation in which you can grow into your individual self. For many athletes, myself included, it is impossible to remember a time when you weren’t rushing from practice-to-practice, changing in the car from one uniform to the other. It is hard to remember a time where you woke up in the morning without bumps and bruises, and some type of body ache forcing you to question why you play sports to begin with — I say that jokingly, but when we are 50, we are really going to be questioning our adolescent decisions when it hurts to walk up and down the stairs.

Through the daily practices and weekend games, we fell in love with the grind of the process — we fell in love with being athletes. That is something no one can ever take away from you: The communal love for the process in which those around you coexist in the struggle to succeed and excel in whatever sport or activity taking place. Even after you hang up the cleats for the final time, you will always consider yourself an athlete — it is a huge part of your identity. Being an athlete means working through the grind of everyday life, the ups and downs included, and it will never cause you to waver — you will be consistent through it all, embracing the struggles along the way.

Being a part of a team, as obvious as it may sound, creates the innate ability to perform as a member of a team in every aspect of life. Whether in the realm of athletics, schooling or in the workforce, being able to bring individual efforts to the table  to bolster the performance of a collective group is a necessary quality to have in any successful team atmosphere. Athletes are programmed to give 100% effort so that others will be inspired to reciprocate the same effort.

Out of the many lessons that athletics has taught me, I believe the most important one is that you aren’t always going to win, and that feeling of loss is supposed to ignite a fire inside of you to demand success the next time around. The feeling of loss evolve into a sense of competitiveness that forces you to demand more of yourself and of those around you. That exact competitiveness is what creates a strong team — a team that is constantly desiring more.

With the end of my athletic career looming around the corner, it’s time for me to sit back and reflect on my time as a member of a team. It feels like the end of a beautiful era where I have looked forward to displaying every ounce of talent and competitiveness I have picked up along my long 16-year journey in the athletic realm. It’s bittersweet, but I know that I have gained so much more from that journey than just bumps and bruises. I have gained life-long friendships that inspire me to constantly work toward bettering myself, as well as qualities that will help bolster me in whatever my future endeavors may have in store.

I am forever grateful for everything athletics has taught me, and I look forward to watching those under me blaze the trail for young aspiring athletes to follow.