Notre Dame senior infielder, Tommy Chase, is more than just a student-athlete. Chase uses his free time to give back to his community by participating in Life Works, an organization that pairs mentors with underprivileged third and fourth graders. He is a finalist for the John Wooden Citizenship Cup Award, an honor bestowed upon athletes who take the time to teach others from the ground up. He is a leader on the field, in the classroom and in his community.
Chase exemplifies what it means to live out of the dugout. Speaker Steve Fries elaborated on this idea of taking leadership onto “the playing field” during his Called to Lead presentation on Wednesday, March 11. Titled “The Dugout is Comfortable, but the Field is Where the Action Is,” this event used baseball as an analogy to show students that elements of leadership are best learned when they are applied.
“Action is on the field,” Fries said. “It’s on the field that we have to apply what we’re learning and do the things that will impact the game… My point is: Get out on the field and play.” Fries had students discuss in groups qualities that a leader should possess.
Senior Rebecca Lane explained that leaders should be inspirational. “In order to lead other people, you have to have a vision and be able to share it with other people,” she said.
Leaders should also be humble, according to junior Amanda Long’s table. “You should have great ideas, but you don’t want to get too cocky with them because it can constrict you from being open-minded. If you get cocky, then you get stagnant,” Long said.
Other adjectives caught Fries’ eye. “Optimism” was written on a few groups’ posters, and Fries spoke about its importance. “Optimism can permeate and organize. People do not want to be led by a pessimist. If you want to be a pessimist, go to the dugout.” Fries explained that no one goes up to the plate assuming they are going to strike out. To hit the ball, you have to believe it will happen.
Fries also discussed how leaders are made. He explained that no one is born a leader, rather they learn the necessary skills over time. He broke these down into five parts: physical characteristics, emotional traits, style, knowledge and characteristics they developed over time. Some of these things people simply have when they are born, but most are acquired when potential leaders jump in the game headfirst.
According to Fries, you become a leader by getting out of the lecture room and actually applying what you’ve learned in the field. “You have to see it, hear it, feel it, taste it to actually know what it looks like, sounds like,” he said.
The dugout and the field are considerably different places. The dugout is tranquil. It is safe, relaxing and calm. “It’s a place to study, you can observe what’s going on. You can take it all in,” Fries said. However, it is not the place where you become a great baseball player.