“The duty of the captain is to listen to the team, and communicate anything that they hear about, and the needs of the team, to the coaches and communicate from the coaches to the team,” said Tilda Koven, a Berkeley High School senior and co-captain of the womens varsity crew team. Over the five months that they have been captain, they have faced the unique challenges presented to leaders on sports teams. There are many shared experiences and difficulties among captains across these teams.
Kyle Hayden, the head badminton coach, agreed with Koven. “The main thing I look for in a team captain is that I want them to act as a sort of go-between between the rest of the team and myself,” Hayden said.
BHS sophomore Juna French, captain of the JV girls soccer team feels that being team captain helps her concentrate as an athlete. “I’m responsible for being more of a leader on the team. It makes me focus more at practice, and just stay a little more on top of my game,” French said.
According to Antonio Quinto, BHS senior and captain of the badminton team, one quality that makes being captain easier is his passion for helping others learn to improve their game. “My favorite thing is teaching other people, because I like seeing other people improve,” said Quinto. Similarly to French, he described how his position has helped him build on his athleticism. “When I teach things, I get a better understanding of the things that I’m teaching, so it helps me improve as well,” said Quinto.
According to Hayden, ability and willingness to assist in instruction is important for a captain on his team. “I’m often looking for a player who is setting aside time that they could use for something for themselves to try to help the team … by working with players that are less experienced,” said Hayden.
French explained that as captain she feels “responsible for hyping the team up and getting them excited before games, but then also helping them focus.” However, she has found that she has inhabited that role even before her appointment, although it has made her feel more comfortable with the display. “I’ve always been like the team cheerleader. … What I like about being captain is I feel like I’m allowed to be that person. … Not that I can’t do that if I’m not a captain, but it feels a little bit more acceptable in a way,” French said.
On the badminton team, Quinto has found a different set of responsibilities. “For us in badminton, it’s demonstrating the different skills, footwork techniques, and also helping other people improve their own skills, and announcing stuff at home games,” said Quinto.
As a team captain, players are given more power on the team, which could potentially lead to conflict. According to French, the position makes her more aware of how her teammates feel about her actions. “I don’t want my teammates to think that I think I’m better than them, because I don’t. I feel like that’s hard because sometimes I’m self-conscious. Like, do my teammates think I’m overstepping, or too overpowering?” said French.
Koven has also found that the position has certain daunting qualities. “There’s a whole team there that I have to support. And anything that happens, it is in part my responsibility. People are always looking up to me for guidance and to know what we should be doing,” said Koven.
As a captain, Quinto feels that one difficulty for him is that he serves as a representative of his sport. “You’re the mascot. You’re the leader of the team … Last year before I was a captain, when I thought of the badminton team, I thought of our old captain,” Quinto said.
On the BHS crew team, there are two current captains on the womens’ varsity squad. Koven has found that having multiple captains can lighten the load for the leaders and help the team function better. “If there’s anything that one of us is unsure about, we can always talk to the other. And then, even if one is missing practice, there’s always a captain at practice … we’re always there to support each other,” Koven said.
Captains of sports teams are required to take on a heavy load in order to support their team and improve team communication. They must bridge the gap between players and coaches.
According to Hayden, “It’s not necessarily about being the strongest player on the team (or) the most competitive. It’s about having and demonstrating the drive to push yourself and become more and sharing that with other people.”