Oftentimes, the most difficult part of participating in competitive, but not mega-high-level sports is creating a conducive and comfortable team environment. It’s difficult to balance the idea of everyone trying to reach their athletic peak with the fact that the team is just not significant enough to warrant professionalization strategies. These kinds of teams don’t have the resources that high school or college teams would have that are getting looks from professional scouts.
I’ll refer to these kinds of teams as competitive-rec teams, just to have a name for it. Personally, I run for a Division III track and field team, which means that we have plenty of talent on our roster, but none that are looking to go professional. What makes my team so special is the team’s pride, which I think is the most important for all competitive-rec teams.
At our meets, you’d be hard-pressed to watch an event that isn’t getting excited cheering from teammates, and teammates running similar events are constantly working with each other throughout the meet, showing camaraderie, pride, and mutual support.
Track meets and World Series Game 7’s may differ in lots of ways, but these three qualities can be found just as much on my track team as it is on our championship Nationals. From all the hugs, to Howie Kendrick and Adam Eaton’s truck-driving celebrations, to all the dancing, this is a team that has each other’s back at every moment of every competition.
Max Scherzer summed it up well in his postgame interview:
Taking things seriously is important – it can offer a sense of value to the long hours of practice – but in the end, giving a shit about your team’s performance and your team’s morale are going to be the biggest benefactors to having a successful (by which I mean fun) season.
If you’re ever in doubt about your competitive-rec team and it’s composition, look up highlights from this year’s Nationals. They’re a perfect blueprint for a great time at any level.