We’ve all heard it, and probably at some point said it,
“There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’,”
…but in the first three minutes of the OU/Notre Dame game this past Saturday there were a couple of INTs (#boomersooner)
(As a Sooners fan living in the South Bend area, I had to bring that back up, but it really does keep me on track.)
Whenever I think of teamwork, I think of sports. To some extent, I find this ironic because I’ve never considered myself an athlete, and growing up as a first-generation Filipino American, a life in the big leagues just wasn’t in the cards for me. My owners force-fed the importance of science and math in my life and wanted nothing to do with sports as a recreational activity.
Growing up watching His Airness on TV, I had a literal hoop dream of being the first Filipino-American in the NBA.
Our pastor at church even approached my mother and asked if I could play for the CYO team at church, and she said, “oh no, no, no. He’d get run over by all the big, black people.” True story. She said this to the pastor.
In high school, I wasn’t allowed to even try-out for the basketball team (not that I would have made the cut), but I did get to participate as a team manager at home games. The basketball coach was also the men’s tennis coach, and after noticing my ability to cover the court fairly well in gym class, he asked if I’d be able to try-out for tennis. Surprise. No dice. Not even with Michael Chang’s fame at the time.
My 10th grade science teacher was also a wrestling coach, and after “breaking up” some horseplay on The Stoop (aka me writhing my way to survival out of my larger friends’ grips), he asked me later if I wanted to go out for the wrestling team—in the 105lb class. Once again, the parentals shut it down.
Once I moved out of the house and left for the Navy, my physical activity level increased tremendously, and I picked up quite an enjoyment for beach volleyball.
I did still try and a play a pick up b-ball game with some of the senior enlisted members and officers I worked for and in an attempt to throw a pass down court, my right shoulder decides it wants the same fate my left shoulder had previously.
Staying away from the hardwood court, I came back to the sand, and as much as I loved it, Mr. Wilson was no good for my shoulders, and the last time I injured my left shoulder, I literally threw it out of socket on a dig, and that, well…led to an ambulance ride and a long night in the ER.
A couple years later, down in Southern California, I was cast in an original play. A site-specific piece to be performed on basketball court in the Hollywood Fringe Festival—this was to be a huge break for me landing a gig outside of school—and I pop my right shoulder during the first rehearsal…playing basketball.
So yeah, sports weren’t really in the cards for me anyway, but I did enjoy them when I could. However, that didn’t mean I couldn’t be a fan of them and marvel at those that excelled in their respective fields, courts, and tracks.
I eventually started following college sports after I got out of the Navy (See: “I Am Mr T.”) and as much as I love watching the games, I also love watching coaches’ speeches, motivational videos, and documentaries.
So yeah, I may not have been part of a sports team, but I still learned about what it was like to be on a team when I was stationed on my submarine. (Hooyah, Rickover!) However, learning about teamwork on a submarine, in the military, set a really high bar early in my professional career, and that has been something I’ve struggled with at several jobs.
All this came to a halt in the last couple of weeks, and to add some coincidental irony, what I learned in the US Navy led me to my decision to leave Old Navy.