Captains play a substantial role on all teams, no matter the sport or level of play. For a team to function successfully, it is paramount that its captains perform at an appropriate level. This will now be easier for those selected players because of Elizabethtown College’s recent implementation of the Captains Council.
The Captains Council, which began this semester, is a new addition to the athletic department. The council is run by Etown’s women’s softball coach, Kathy Staib. Staib described the program as: “An opportunity for those in leadership roles to come together and share experiences and knowledge. It’s a platform for them to learn from one another.”
Staib believes the council will be a good addition to Etown athletics. “It will help them nurture their skills as leaders,” she explained. Staib also finds it necessary because the student-athletes requested it.
She says it is important that the athletic department listen to what the students have to say. “They now have additional resources to use in the not-always-easy task of being captain,” she added.
Junior Alexis Morris, a captain of the women’s lacrosse team, also acknowledges the importance of this program. “I think it will strengthen the student voice in our athletic department,” Morris said.
Although it is not required, the Captains Council welcomes captains from any sports team to join them at their monthly meetings. The group discusses the expectations of captains and different definitions of leadership.
At the program’s first meeting, the athletes discussed what the mission of the Captains Council is, and the athletes are in the process of formatting their first draft. Therefore, Staib was unable to release their actual mission statement.
“We have to define who we are and define our roles,” Staib said. She also reported that at the meetings, the captains raise questions and ask for advice on any specific problems they are having with their team or individual players. “They talk amongst themselves mostly. It’s not for me, I’m just advising,” Staib added.
Morris believes that the Captains Council is a proactive way for captains of different sports team to come together and discuss important issues. “By showing solidarity among all the teams, we can address problems that plague athletics, such as fundraising, field usage, and school spirit from the rest of the student body,” Morris added.
One of the topics that has already been discussed at meetings is “how to deal with the last person on the end of the bench that may be feeling left out,” Staib said. She also explained that, at meetings, they refrain from specifying players by never using a student’s name.
Although Staib is the only official adviser, she still plans to turn to other coaches to help the council grow. She understands that, although she is an experienced coach and mentor, it may be beneficial to have a male coach attend a few of the meetings to help the male players with problems they may be having with their teams.
Although the Captains Council is new to Etown, it is already making progress. According to Morris, the council was formed at an opportune time since the College is also undergoing strategic planning this year. In addition, Staib is more than satisfied with the meeting turnout and estimated that the council has about 50 active members.
The Captains Council is a useful tool for the captains of Etown’s sports teams. Through this program, these exemplary student-athletes can improve their already strong leadership skills. They can evolve as leaders, athletes and as students and will hopefully reflect their improvements onto their teams.