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Trust in Team

February 16, 2014

I recently finished Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat, the remarkable story of the 1936 U.S. Olympic rowing team made up of blue-collar boys from the University of Washington. I’m not a rower, but I gather within rowing circles they’re considered one of the world’s all-time greatest boats.

There’s a moment about two-thirds through the book that helps explain how this group, despite not being the strongest, tallest, or most technically sound, could compete against and beat the world’s best. It hinges on #2 seat Joe Rantz, a gifted, but inconsistent member of the team who can’t seem to find his rhythm. Legendary boat builder George Pocock, whose workshop sat above the Washington boathouse, pulls Joe aside before the spring season and insists that he has an opportunity to do things most would never have the chance to do, but to get there he has to trust the other boys in the boat.

“Joe, when you really start trusting those other boys, you will feel a power at work within you that is far beyond anything you’ve ever imagined.”

I’ve rolled that idea over in my head the past two days. Trust. It’s perhaps that simple — the greatest teams, organizations, dorms and classes thrive when and only when the members trust each other completely. We trust each other to do our part. We also must trust that we care when other members succeed, not just when we do.

I’ve seen this play out most recently with the III Form boys as they’ve come together with the help of dorm parents and advisors. During duty on Wednesday nights I watch as they study and play together and, though they might not be ready to admit it, how much they care about each other. They do their jobs, played sardines, eat cookies and often find it difficult to go their separate ways at bedtime. It is a scene played out by generations of St. Andreans.

We’ll see the same this weekend with the winter play and again next weekend when students come together for Mock Trial and the winter musical. Look out for it around you and the next time you’re on campus. In it’s greatest form, it can be, as Pocock correctly asserted, beyond anything we imagine.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. James B permalink
    February 18, 2014 9:02 pm

    And we trust that our teammates will pick us up when we stumble or fall.

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