Here’s the thing. Being a captain is NOT easy. Being a captain means you have a lot more work than the rest of the group. Being a captain means responsibility. Being a captain means you are taking ownership of this team.
So you want to be a captain?
Here are my 6 NON-negotiable qualities of a captain.
1. Be a Welcomer.
Something changes once you become a leader. You know when you walk into a room and you feel insecure that you don’t know who to talk to? And you so desperately want someone to notice you and care that you are there? Yeah, I’m 25 and I still feel that. But when you are a leader, you can’t wait to be welcomed. No, instead, you have to be the one to welcome others. When someone walks into the room, you have to fake it until you make it. Be excited that they are there, welcome them, give them a hug, and NOTICE them. When we feel that we are wanted, we thrive.
This also means you need to know EACH of their names. As new girls come into your program, you must learn them right away. Even the girls on the frosh soph team, KNOW THEIR NAMES. This is a culture changer for a program. If those that are younger feel seen, they will SHOW UP for you. That’s the thing about girls… if we trust you and we know you love us, we could pretty much run through brick walls for you. It’s the way that we are wired. We are strong and powerful when we feel known and safe.
2. Be a Servant.
Now it’s your job to make sure everything is cleaned up and set up. In the Kingdom of God, the greatest are those who serve. Why do we think it’s okay to make the younger girls get the equipment? Have you ever thought about how opposite that is of what God has asked us to do? Maybe you delegate - but you don’t leave until it’s all done.
Imagine a team where the older girls and the leaders made it a point to serve the team. You were the ones to make sure the water was there. I believe two things will happen. 1. Like I said earlier, when girls know that you care for them, they will work for you. Serving them is showing that you care and that you are bought in. They will respect you more rather than be scared or resentful of your “privilege” to not have to do the dirty work 2. The girls are watching the LEADERS do the dirty work. How powerful! They will begin to help naturally. They will follow suit because they see that it is normal to serve. As they step up to leadership roles, you will have set a culture that they will step right into.
There will be no forcing, no hazing, just a team where there is no one that is above the dirty work and that everyone plays a part.
3. One on one with each player on your team.
You must know the girls on your team. This takes time and sacrifice. But the pay off will be amazing for all parties. In todays culture, we are often so different when we are in groups. We can be so influenced by those around us. So to be truly known, you sort of need to get alone with each other.
This is the SAME point I’m making again. If the girls younger than you know that you care, they will show up for you.
The power of being KNOWN is really unmatchable. You don’t want a team where everyone is just talking to each other’s “masks”. You want a team where people ACTUALLY knows each other. A team that mourns with one another and a team that rejoices with one another. The best team I’ve ever played with had this mentality. We went undefeated all season, and we were definitely not the best team. But there was an unexplainable unity. And YOU, ms. captain, are the one who sets this culture. Speaking of culture...
4. Set the culture by being the model.
What environment do YOU want? What are your biggest values? Is it hard work? Do you want a team where the expectation is hard work? Is it that you focus during practice time?
You must be the one to model it. I PROMISE YOU, the younger girls will follow your model. I’ve seen it over and over again. If the leaders are goofing around, the rest of the team thinks that is what is normal and they will follow suit. If you cut corners during fitness, what do you think they will assume is the norm? They will be a product of the culture that YOU set. That’s a lot of responsibility. I think it’s time you sit down with your other captains and decide what your culture is going to be and what values are most important to you. And then… go do it.
5. Give individual personal encouragements.
This means, even when you don’t feel like it and you’re discouraged about your own performance - you must be the one who is always encouraging others.
If you get subbed out of the game and you go sit in the corner and sulk that you got pulled, this will bring down the team. But if you are bummed… feel it for a moment, get your water and walk for a few minutes, then pull it together, sit on the bench, and start cheering for your teammates.
As a captain, you are no longer their for yourself, you are there for the team. Regardless of your emotions or your personal play, those can’t take precedent over the team. You may have 11 of your teammates still battling on the field when you are on the bench, and it’s your job to jump into that battle as well. Become the 12th person on the team, encouraging like crazy.
6. Be a prayer warrior for your team.
As a leader, you are now an intercessor for them. You will stand in the gap. Individually praying for your teammates and your team. The girls don’t even ever have to know…! But you and God will know. My love for people grows immensely when I pray for them. I think it’s because God begins to give me his heart and eyes for them.
So with all that said, do you still want to be a captain? Own it. Do it. Don’t take this role lightly. Does this feel too intense? GOOD. Because I think you could be better and I think we could change the world if we each did this in our own spaces.
Hey FAM! I work for Fellowship of Christian Athletes where I specifically run a soccer ministry. I coach soccer all over Orange County and work with female athletes of all ages. I grew up in Southern California and played soccer at Point Loma Nazarene University where I studied exercise science and theology. My passion is to encourage others and bring them closer to Jesus! I also love all things my husband, Lakers, and the ocean!