Drama isn’t something reserved for the stage. Every year, in every season, sports teams deal with lots of issues that have nothing to do with athleticism: jealousy, playing time, disagreements and personality clashes to name a few. Naugatuck High School athletes participating in fall sports this year are no exception.
During this past fall season, Naugatuck sports teams have faced the challenge of dealing
with these types of confrontations in their own close-knit families. This can be detrimental to their self-esteem as well as their quality of play.
The level at which each team plays can fluctuate from high to low, depending on how closely bonded the team feels.
NHS social worker Joanna Dinkle said, “As a social worker, I estimate that 50% of a team’s performance has to do with the connectedness of the team.”
The NHS girls’ soccer team, for example, has juggled its own “drama.”
“There are some problems with certain girls but we get over them. The problems that affect us are mainly with the coaches,” said NHS girls’ soccer player Jasmine Grey.
Some athletes feel like their opinion does not matter much in comparison to their coach’s.
Cassidy Baranowski, also on the team with Grey, agreed by saying, “The coaches don’t always listen to our opinions. We would solve more problems if they listened more to players.”
Girls soccer coach Sean Dunn is aware of the problems that sometimes plague the team, and takes these matters seriously. But he also feels that coaching the girls to deal with their problems independently is an important life skill he tries to promote.
“It all depends on the level of conflict. I mostly have the girls try to resolve it on their own but if it becomes serious, I will of course step in to assist them,” said Dunn.
Extending beyond the soccer team, the NHS girls’ volleyball team members can attest to being drawn into these situations as well.
“Drama between players always distracts me. The coaches tell me to play loose, but it’s hard to with all of the tension,” commented an anonymous member on the team.
Girls’ volleyball coach Kevin Wesche offers one solution to the issue of drama when it crops up between his team members. “My resolution is open dialogue. We have a conversation between the whole team.”
NHS Dean of Students and Athletic Director Tom Pompeii explains that the coaches’ responsibilities and contributions when confrontation occurs within their team.
“A coach’s job is the same as mine: they have to be firm and discipline, but also aware and understanding. The difference between them and myself is that coaches are the first line of defense and that makes them have a direct effect on the culture of the team,” noted Pompeii.
With any sport, a team needs to be able to work past differences in order to coexist.
NHS girls volleyball player Jenna Massicotte stated, “Whether it’s on the court, whether it’s off the court, whether it’s with teammates or coaches, a strong relationship is key.”