The importance of leadership whilst learning

Being a student means always learning, which essentially means following the direction of someone else.

In school, you are constantly listening to a teacher or a coach and then come home and listen to your parents. There tends to be little opportunity for independent thinking. Once you get to college it all completely changes. You are on your own, making your own schedule and making real decisions for yourself. That’s why gaining leadership experience at a young age is indispensable.

Being a leader can come in many different forms. For high school students, one way to gain leadership skills is by playing sports. Being on a team can teach you valuable life lessons, not just leadership.

However, the one who has the opportunity to learn the most about leadership is the team captain. No matter what sport or what team you are on, being named a captain is an honor and the responsibility that comes with that title makes for an invaluable experience.

As someone who was a high school sports captain, my time as a young leader has helped me greatly later on in life. When I was a young and an inexperienced freshman starting my high school sports career playing tennis and soccer, I first looked up to the seniors and in particular the captains. I looked to them as a model for how they conducted themselves, and what it meant to be a high school athlete. I made it my goal to one day be in their shoes and to have the freshmen look up to me.

The best thing about being a leader is there is no right or wrong way to do it. You can lead by example, be a vocal leader, or just be there for advice. In the high school sports setting much of that responsibility falls on the coach, but the captains can play a key role due to familiarity. The captain is a part of the team who goes to class all day just like everybody else. They face the same problems and after practice head home to complete their homework like any normal high school student does. The coach does not.

It was a very rewarding experience finally having the opportunity to be a leader on a team I was a part of all four years of school. I was honored to be voted captain by my team-mates. As a kid, and yes high school students are still kids, being a sports captain allows you to have a responsibility for others. Just like being a big brother or big sister, those below you are watching your every move whether you notice or not.

High school sports presents opportunities for certain life experiences that just cannot be found anywhere else, and being a high school sports captain teaches you about leadership that could be hard to learn anywhere else in school. That experience will pay dividends later in life when you always have to do the right thing and take charge just as you would in a game. In the real world people will be relying on you at a job just like on a team.

Learning how to be a leader is something a student cannot find in a textbook. It is something you gain through experience. The biggest challenge to leadership is not becoming one but how to be an effective one. Your surroundings are constantly changing and you must adapt your leadership style to those around you. The sooner in life you can acquire leadership skills, the better off you can be down the road.

Jeff Zeserson

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