tomandsteve/iStock/Getyy Images

tomandsteve/iStock/Getty Images

by Emily Caldwell, staff  reporter

A week before school ended, my high school soccer coach pulled me and seven other girls on my team into his office. He started off by saying that he had selected us to be the captains of the workout groups for this summer. These summer workout groups were not new to us; there had been workout groups last year over the summer that last year’s seniors had run. What was new to us was that now it was our turn. This was our coach’s way of telling us that we were now the ones in charge, that we were now the ones being looked up to. I remember feeling a strange surge of nervousness and excitement. There were two of us assigned to every group, and we were to be co-captains. Our coach gave us the list of players in our respective groups, the packet that included the exercises and the schedule for when to work out over the summer, and sent us on our way. The captains were responsible for contacting the people in our group, setting up a workout time, and getting everyone to come out.

I have to admit, I was nervous before the first workout. I knew I was supposed to be this calm, collected, and confident senior, someone the new freshmen could respect and someone the sophomores and juniors could count on to take charge and lead. Granted, these were only summer workouts, but I knew they set the bar for when school started. I knew I had to work hard, set a good example, and take on all of my responsibilities.

When the first freshmen came out, I, being the anxious and awkward person that I am, cracked lame jokes to help them feel more comfortable and welcome. Unfortunately, I’m really not funny when I’m trying to be funny. My co-captain thankfully stepped in to rescue me from my floundering: “So, what’s your name?” We went around the circle, everyone saying their name and year. The first few workouts started off like this. I remembered all of their names… eventually. After the introductions, we got to work.

Each workout lasted about an hour. We would do mostly body-weight exercises, and then we would run sprints at the end. I’d never thought I’d say it, but these workouts were a good idea. Not only did I get to workout twice (sometimes three times) per week with girls on the team that I had already befriended, but I had the opportunity to get acquainted with new freshmen and to help them learn about the girls’ soccer program at Consol. But as the summer went on, it began to get harder and harder to work out as a group. People started committing more hours to their jobs, taking vacations with their family, or simply not showing up. Sometimes, I had to merge my group, or what was left of it, with another group in order to have enough people to do the workouts. Despite these challenges, I still enjoyed the workouts. They were an opportunity for me to get comfortable and break out of the shell I surround myself with whenever I meet new people. As much as these workouts were meant to help the freshmen integrate into the program, they helped me realize that in order to lead, in order to serve as a senior on the team, you must be willing and able to feel relaxed and confident around your teammates.

I’ve found that it’s easier to bond with someone after you have struggled through a workout together. You have something to talk about and someone to relate to. In that sense, the workouts were a success. They not only got us in shape for the soccer year but they helped us bond. They helped us embrace the struggle and prepare for bigger struggles to come.