The following blog is taken from the ethics speech that Jonny '19 (2L first row) delivered to his Upper School teachers and peers. Each year, several seniors give these speeches about a belief or experience that impacts the way they lead their life. Jonny — an All-IAC varsity wrestler and leader of the nonprofit Hear My Voice, an after school program for middle and high school students focusing on self advocacy, active listening, and quicker resolution both inside and out of the class room — spoke about the value of being a good teammate to those around you.
We've all done it at some point. Whether that is encouraging the guy next to you to do one more rep, or holding the door for the person behind you, we all have, at some point, been a good teammate. But that is just the surface of what it means to have good teamwork. True teamwork is doing something not because you feel obliged to, but because you want to. Because you are invested in the cause and you are devoted to the person next to you. And as I go through and tell you my story and what I've learned about teamwork, I want you to keep this question in mind: what am I doing at this moment to be a better teammate?
So, I want to tell you one of the main reasons why I love Landon. Last year, as a new student I was anxious about what it would be like at a new school. Would I have a successful athletic year? Would I be able to survive one of the so called hardest classes in Humanities? Would I be able to find a new home?
I originally only thought that guys would be supportive of me for what I did on the wrestling mat. That my role as a teammate would only start after 3:15 p.m.
But what I found, is that this feeling of teamwork didn't just start as soon as guys started heading over to the gym. People were supporting each other throughout the day. Whether that be lending an extra belt to someone who forgot theirs to sending notes to a student that was sick, guys were stepping up and looking out for one another. I could try something new, and students would support me, because they were my teammate. If there was something that I was either new at or wasn't strong in, there were dozens of people willing to support me. That is why I Love Landon. Each day, every student is a model example of what it means to have brotherhood. Each guy has the back of the person next to them. It was this sense of teamwork that had me sure that Landon was my home.
You can survive on your own, but in order to thrive you need to rely on each other. Each time we walk through these doors, we buy into this idea that we are going to help each other. Not just our friends, but every person. We all share a common goal, to make Landon the best it possible can be. Just as we root during sporting events to keep scoring, to keep striving for more, so to must we support each other in our daily lives to strive to be our best.
I believe that the teamwork displayed here is shown perfectly in our class year motto: Band of Brothers. A band with individuals that will step up and pick the person next to you up when they are down, and a band with individuals that will step back, and support others during their important moments.
Here at Landon we have a variety of different students. From our hilariously funny improv team that performs original skits under pressure, to our undefeated football team looking to make a run at the championship again, we have a variety of skilled individuals that many other schools cannot match. But true teamwork doesn't mean going to the popular events only. It doesn't mean going to the events that everyone else is going to, or that will have an after party. Being a true teammate, and having true teamwork means supporting someone no matter how flashy their event is. It means going to events like water polo, squash or tennis, because you want to support your fellow Bear, with the understanding that when the time comes, they will support you.
Taking the time to support someone, makes all the difference in the world.
Allow yourself to support others. And yes, there might be nights or weekends where it will be hard, but even doing something as small as texting them "good luck" before a game to attending one event can create tremendous good will. Allow yourself to be a good teammate so that others can as well.
But I would never ask you all to do something that I myself, am not doing.
As some of you might know, I run a non-profit organization called Hear My Voice, where we teach kids the skills to correctly self-advocate, actively listen and improve their overall communication skills. And as I enter my third year as president of the organization, one of my fundamental goals for this year, is to instill this same sense of teamwork into my team. And to this end, I have promised that I will support each one of my team members in their activities outside of the organization. Whether it means rooting them on a cross country event, or watching their hard work pay off during a play. I made this promise because I'm committed to them. I'm committed to building trust because that is what a great teammate does. Doing something to support someone even if it's not flashy is what makes a good teammate.
Being a good teammate isn't just about helping others, but also helping yourself. Good teammates not only help others, but they ask for support. A quick show of hands; how many of you helped someone these past couple of weeks?
Now, how many of you have asked for help? I'm sure some you raised your hands both times, which is great. And for those who didn't, I say "why not?" Being a good teammate isn't just saying "I can help everyone, I can do everything" but also "I'm not where I want to be, and I need help". And no shame to game in asking for help. In saying "Hey, I'm not where I want to be. Can you help me?" with the understanding that when you are not where you want to be, I'll help you.
The last thing that I will say about teamwork, is that I know we have the ability to be truly outstanding teammates. Not just on the field, but in the hallways as well. I know this because at the end of last year, I called upon you to help me and you did. As many of you know, last spring I tore my ACL and had to undergo surgery. I finished the year on crutches, with simple tasks like walking to lunch costing me immense amounts of energy. With me being in crutches, I would constantly have to ask others to either hold the door open for me, or get me food at lunch, because I was physically unable to do so. And no one likes the dude that constantly asks you wait in the horrifically long lunch line or always asks you to slow down and wait for him. But I never felt that. I saw individuals stepping up and helping me out because they wanted to. Because they were devoted to helping me get back on my feet. Because they were my classmates. Because they were my workout partners. Because they were my teammates.
As I conclude, I want to draw you back to the question I proposed earlier: What am I doing at this moment to be a better teammate? And I hope that you've come to realize that being a good teammate, having good teamwork isn't something that you can check off your list. It's habitually tested each day.
Opportunities arise - both big and small - and it's your decision to act upon them or not. It's your decision to determine if you want to be a band of brothers and be an excellent teammate. I hope you choose being a good teammate so that we can all band together in brotherhood.