UW Health Sports Medicine 

Believe in who you can become

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In today's Badger Blog, senior catcher Maggie Strange writes about a leadership presentation she attended, what she learned and how she can become a better leader. 

"I believe in who you can become." Brian Curtis

Four years after I began my journey as a Badger, I was given the opportunity to attend an event hosted by Brian Curtis.

Brian, a former soccer coach, writer and father, spoke to some of the student-athletes at the University of Wisconsin. The discussion started off with having to talk to a teammate for forty seconds and to compliment them, tell them positive things. 

Sounds easy right? Could you do it without using filler words, such as "um or like"?

Now, could you look a different teammate in the eyes and tell them two things they need to work on? Oh sure you could if you actually had time to sit down and think about it and really evaluate. 
The hardest thing to do as a teammate is to be positive; a great team has great communication. The impact of words that you use affects your coaches, your university and your team. 

Whether you are walking through an airport, down the street or even speaking to a professor, value what you say, what you wear and how you act. Keep your emotions under control. 

Brian presented us with some clips of coaches and players who let their emotions get the best of them, and yea, we all laughed and giggled about it, but Brian made sure we understood the reason that we were watching these. Emotion kills; it gets the best of you. 

One thing that our coaches really preach to our team is to be accountable, Brian said the same thing, be accountable for your emotions and your actions. Nothing is off record and everything you say, counts. 

"Do not underestimate the power of you voice, body or eyes." Brian Curtis

Be proud, sit up straight, look someone in the eyes when being spoken to, be honest. Think to yourself, did I lie today? The question that Brian asked us as a group, some raised their hands and said yes, but when asked what they lied about they couldn't answer. "You don't have to remember a lie." He said. Just be honest with yourself and who are you are talking to or it will come back to haunt you. 

As student athletes, we are placed on a pedestal. Our Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts are under a bird's eye view. Believe it or not what we post online not only reflect who we are but also is never removed from search engines, meaning coaches, employers and fans can see these things anytime they want. 

Brain gave us three rules to remember when posting things online. 

1. Would you stand in the middle of campus and scream it? 
2. Would you put it in an email to your mom and dad?
3. Would you want your future kids to read it?

He also led us through an exercise where he crumpled up a bunch of pieces of paper and threw them in a box that was taped on the floor. Two volunteers, one being myself and the other being a basketball player were then put to the test. We had to walk backwards through this minefield of paper, with people from our team leading us through it. 

As we have done in our softball practices with coach Schneider leading someone through an obstacle course with our eyes closed, I pinpointed Molly's voice and strictly listened to her through this course. The other team had many people yelling and telling my opponent where to step, etc. 

The purpose of this was to figure out whose voice matters. He mentioned that sometimes to be the best leader you have to be quiet. If you listen to too many people at once, its chaos. But, if you listen to just one person to get you through an obstacle, you will be better off. 

With this part of the presentation, he mentioned a few great leaders and coaches. Napoleon for example, would pull up a soldier and have him introduced to the platoon that was headed to war. This was simply to show his soldiers that he cared about them and therefore they would work harder. 

John Wooden was another example, he made his players practice putting their socks on correctly for two hours. 

The reason? To pay attention to the details, because the little things matter. 

You can be a quiet player and still have leadership potential. You just have to be trusted and able to trust, communicate and represent, be smart about your social media, and practice leadership exercises. 

Sometimes your best leaders aren't your best athletes. 

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