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What a fabulous, evenly matched contest today! After a lethargic 1st period the Hornets got their legs going in the 2nd. Through the rest of the afternoon we played better D and when Lawrence did get behind us Lilly was there to make the stops and cover up. Great action at both ends for both teams. All five of our lines had dominant shifts during which they peppered the Lawrence netminder with shot-rebound-rebound flurries. Our more experienced players sustained pressure for full shifts at a time and our least experienced forwards also created some ‘take-your-breath-away-how-did-that-not-go-in?!!!’ fireworks. With that kind of effort we usually manage to score some dirty goals; today it was not to be, but the testing thrill of the game itself, with the team working together, was a most satisfying tonic.
Good pre-game prep often includes reviewing how to handle specific game situations but today the players simply got a booster shot of team culture. They heard about how they have supported each other since the start. They were given just a few examples of the many ways players have contributed to the team this season as a reminder of what we expect and of how the overall team culture they have bought into accounts for their ever-developing quality of play and a pretty high fun-factor. We reminded them that we work hard when it is our turn and we pump each other up while waiting for our next turn. And then we turned them loose. At this point that’s really all we have to do.
We think ‘team culture’ is everything. Team culture, a combination of shared values, beliefs, expectations, attitudes and behaviors, is what turns a large group of very different, imperfect individuals into a cohesive team that has an identity and a commitment to each other. It is what helps a group accomplish together what a collection of individuals could not. Knowing what is expected of us, knowing that we can make a meaningful contribution to a larger effort and that, in turn, others will support us to be our very best, is what motivates and inspires. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
So we start cooking our secret sauce even before we start skating in the late fall and we keep adding to it, like a long-simmering soup, through the season. Without divulging the actual ingredients of our proprietary formula, the recipe is pretty simple. We set clear objectives and expectations, in practices and games we focus on individual and team skill development (not outcomes), we promote collaboration in competitive settings, we make sure everyone knows how they can contribute and that their contributions are important, we give as much feedback as we can, and we reinforce important ideas and themes all the time. And not just on the ice. Our ‘culture wall’, a montage of images and text that starts in the hall, wraps through the walls of the locker room and rolls back out down the hall, defines and celebrates our team culture and is a constant reminder both of what we expect of ourselves and of the teammates and people we aspire to be. Fans, Friends and Parents are welcome to check it out.
Located in Andover, NH, Proctor Academy is a private coeducational day and boarding school for grades 9–12. Students benefit from a rigorous academic program, experiential off-campus programs, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.