Being a leader of a UAHS sport comes with both responsibilities and pressures

By Charlie Houk

As junior Brian Sullivan drives to the basket he draws the double team and throws it up to Jeff Vaughn who finishes with a layup, ending the daily scrimmage practice.

Coach Casey calls the team in to a huddle to give them the final words on practice. As he leaves the huddle, Sullivan leads the team in a “bears” chant.

Not often do you have a junior captain and not one that takes on the pressure and responsibility of Brian Sullivan. Sullivan has been playing on the varsity team since he was a freshman. He played two years with his brother Kevin, who was a captain last winter in his senior year.

Sullivan saw his minutes increase dramatically last year as a sophomore, starting most of the games in his sophomore season. Now that he’s a junior he is expected to be the leading scorer at Upper Arlington. Not only will he have to step up and be the leading scorer, he will have to be a leader, seeing as his teammates elected him as a captain for the 2009-2010 season. Sullivan will need to step up and take responsibilities he’s never had before now that he’s a captain.

As new captains take up their roles, they have the responsibilities of being the team leader lifted onto their backs, and they’re expected to lead the team to success.

The workload that goes into being a captain makes for a stressful job. Not only during the seasons do they have to work hard on the field and off the field, the preseason require a lot of work also.

Senior lacrosse captain Dan Kloos states, “it’s the captains responsibility to make sure everyone attends fall ball, indoor, and lifting.”

Kloos believes that if the team works hard in the off-season then they will be able to rise back up to glory and win the state championship after a heart breaking loss to Worthington Kilbourne last year.

The off-season and workouts in the weight room contribute to the success of Upper Arlington Lacrosse but they are not mandatory. It’s the captain’s job to make sure they get their players to the workouts in the weight room and other training sessions.

Kloos also described the pressures on the captains to perform well during the season. “Upper Arlington has set a high standard for their lacrosse team, every year we are expected to win the state championship.”

Junior Emily Fitz was recently elected captain for the 2010 field hockey season. She describes that although the season is so far away she must show she’s a leader now.

“It’s important to get the team together and bond, things like making sure everyone plays winter league.”

Although her season is so far away she is already feeling a heavy workload of being a captain.

From the day they’re announced to the last banquet after their sport ends captains go through a lot of work. Not only do captains themselves have a lot of work to do, their parents have a heavy workload along with them. Whether it’s a team meal before and after the game or preparing for the banquet captain’s parents are very busy. Part of the reason there were six football captains was simply to even out the work of the parents.

Fitz jokingly stated, “it’s more the parents get elected as captains.”

Off the field parents definitely have more work than the players, but when it comes down to being a leader on the field, it’s the player’s job.

Being a captain is more than just calling heads or tails before the game. The hard work that goes into being a captain is often hidden from the public’s eye. Captains do a lot more work than many may think.

When you become a captain for a sports team at Upper Arlington you become the student body picture and representative for that sport. When things go well you’re praised, but when times are tough captains take the most heat. This brings along pressures that average 17 year olds don’t have to deal with.

At Upper Arlington former student athletes have set the bar at a high level. They’re expected to finish at the top of the state in almost all sports. The tradition at Upper Arlington is simply one word: greatness.

Dan Kloos, senior goalie for the Upper Arlington lacrosse teams describes playing for a team that is expected to win the state championship every year, nothing less.

“It’s an honor to be a captain within such a prestigious program. With that honor brings responsibility and pressure to succeed. A lot of the blame of a poor season can fall squarely on the leadership of the captains, and that’s pressure.”

Not only is their pressure to succeed as a captain but you’re teammates look up to you, which also causes pressure. Fitz talks on the pressures of being a captain.

“You have to bring the team together, there’s more pressure. Also your fellow teammates, younger or older, look up to you.”

Whether it’s the undefeated season you’re working for, or the respect of your teammates, being a captain creates a lot of pressure on the athletes.

If you look on the roster of the Upper Arlington Basketball team for the 2009-2010 season, you’ll find next to the names of Jeff Vaughn (Senior), and Oliver Mcglade (Senior), a letter C, which signifies they are both captains. What you might be surprised to see next to Junior Brian Sullivan’s name is that same C. Surprising for those outside the basketball program at least.

Sullivan, a standout on the team last year, as a sophomore, was elected captain for this season. This brings up an interesting question. Should captains be limited to seniors?

Sullivan’s teammate and fellow co-captain Jeff Vaughn spoke to me on his beliefs of junior captains.

“I don’t think it matters how old you are, as long as you’re a leader.”

He also stated that he thought having Brian as a captain was a positive thing, and would help the team in the long run.

Sullivan isn’t nervous coming into the season being a junior captain on a team with a lot of seniors.

I feel confident “because I’ve been on varsity for a while so I have about as much experience as the other seniors.”

Now you might be wondering how the other seniors feel about having a junior as a captain. Often times kids might get jealous that a junior is a captain over them during their senior year.

Vaughn describes the vibe on the team this year by saying that “they still respect his authority, and they’re fine with it.”

Sullivan added that “the seniors are pretty much all leaders so I don’t feel like they look down on me, or don’t respect my authority.”

Having a junior captain brings a bright future to the basketball program for the coming years. With such a solid leader in Sullivan there will be no leadership questions for the team next year.

Every year when new captains are elected, one thing stays constant: The leadership skills and qualities of the captains. You could be the best player in the country, but if you don’t have great leadership qualities, you can’t be a successful captain.

When all four interviewed athletes were asked to give qualities of a great captain, all noted hard work or work ethic.

Fitz added that you have to be “respectful and encouraging” to your teammates. Also she noted its important “to lead by example.”

Kloos also felt the importance of leading by example. He also voiced the opinion that great leaders have “great vocal skills” and know what to say at the right times.

Many captains come through Upper Arlington without making an impact of the school, or their teammates. The ones that do make an impact have all of these qualities: a great work ethic, know how to lead by example, know when and where to be vocal, and encourage their teammates.

Sullivan will have to follow the road of greatness his brothers have set for him. Not only were they great basketball players at Upper Arlington, they were great captains. Chris Sullivan (2007 grad) and Kevin Sullivan (2009 grad) were both captains their senior year, however neither were captains their junior year. Brian Sullivan will need to step up in his junior year more than either of his brothers did.

Some of Sullivan’s expectations and pressure are similar to that of almost all Upper Arlington High school captains. At UA our athletic teams strive for the best, and the great captains get them there.

Whether you’re a junior, senior, or even a sophomore, the responsibilities and pressures of being a captain are of the highest at Upper Arlington.