Choosing captains can be a stressful time for both coaches and players alike. There is often a stigma that the captain of a team has to be the best player on the team, or the most popular among their teammates. Students may lose perspective when voting for captains, choosing a friend or someone they think is cool, when in reality the captain should be the player that unites and guides the team. During the process of choosing a captain there are many aspects that should be considered, as well as different perspectives to influence the decision. Both coaches and players alike hold valuable opinions as to who should represent their team and neither outlook should be disregarded.
The majority of sports teams at Lake Forest high school have captains, however, softball in particular has decided for two years in a row to opt out of choosing them. In speaking with senior Elizabeth Porter, a four-year member of Lake Forest softball about her personal experience of not having captains on their varsity softball team, she mentioned, “last year was the first year that we didn’t have captains and we didn’t get an explanation as to why. I think we were upset initially but soon people began to step up in leadership roles but without the title as a captain. I don’t think captains are necessary (depending on the team) because if your team is close and there are responsible seniors, then they act like leaders and the actual title is not necessary. Also, if there is competition for captains it can cause weird animosity and tension between the team that might not be good.”
Captains are a key to a team to provide a sense of leadership and camaraderie amongst the players, but Porter makes an excellent point as to whether the actual distinction is necessary, or is merely another status competition. They do, however, allow for the relationship between coaches and players to run smoothly. Although the transition from having captains to not having captains might be a difficult one, similar roles of a captain are still carried out, just without the title.
On the other hand, there are athletes who have positive experiences with captains. Brett Chody, a four-year member of LFHS varsity cross country and track and field teams had a few things to say about the impact captains have had on her. “The coaches pick two captains and the rest are voted by the players. I think that it’s fine for this year as we have a new coach, but it has kind of taken away as much of a leadership role because there are so many captains chosen. For cross country, the runners vote and the coaches don’t have any say as to who is captain. I think the coaches should have a say but maybe not announce it. This is because players sometimes jokingly vote for athletes who may not be suitable for the position. It is important for coaches to realize this and ensure captains are people that are beneficial to the team.” It is crucial for every member of the team to be mature and responsible in the voting process. As captains represent, embody, and lead the team in a positive direction, they should be students truly capable of the job.
Mr. Wilhelm, the coach of girls varsity basketball also had an interesting perspective. “Our captains are voted by the players at the end of the season before the next season. They are chosen for the summer because then the team is able to build for the next year with the captains in place. Captains are mainly voted on by the players, but the coaches have a say as well. Having captains has its pros and cons and some people may feel like they have no role, which is inaccurate. It is important that everyone knows they hold important roles on the team, especially the upperclassmen.”
In the end, captains are there to bring the team together. As the process can be stressful at times, it is important to keep an open mind and remember that everyone on the team holds individual responsibilities and should exemplify characteristics of a captain themselves. Both coaches and players have beneficial perspectives as who should be captain and neither outlook should be disregarded. At the end of the day, the captains should be the athletes that are most suitable to lead the team in a positive light.