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Sophomore Diaries: Building a strong culture

Grenfell is a sophomore public relations and management double major and can be contacted at carly.grenfell@drake.edu.

I have finally come to terms with the fact that I will forever be an over-thinker.  I’d like to blame my dad for so generously passing down this trait to me.

But at the same time, it’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes, I catch myself wondering, “what if it were this way?” or “what if that happened?”  Lately, though, it’s been the question, “what do I really want to get out of my experience here?”

I could answer this question a million different ways, mainly because a truly memorable experience should entail a lot of facets, right? Right, but let’s make a deal.  In 600 words or less, you will have a good idea of what it is I want.

The average person in the United States lives to be 78 years old. Out of those hypothetical 78 years, I’m dedicating five of them to a) a college degree and b) my time as a collegiate athlete.  Now think about that.  I only get five years (four in other instances) in my entire lifetime to be part of something only a small percentage of people get to be a part of. I believe my experience playing basketball will be one of the hardest things I ever do. Whether it is the time commitment, the physical aspect or at times the mental toll on your body, college athletics (regardless of the sport) is a full-time job.

So how does a player relish in what could be the hardest four to five years of his or her life?

I think it starts with the culture of a team. Building a culture within a team means setting expectations of excellence that can be passed down from one generation to another. It’s kind of like branding. When a company wants to pitch a product, they first have to build its brand. This process may require anything from confirming its credibility to stating why consumers should buy the product.  The culture of a team can answer the questions of why spectators should come to games, why we ought to be applauded for our efforts and why we deserve to be handed a nice big trophy.

To me, a strong culture would feel like passion — everyone wanting to get better. A strong culture would look like commitment — everyone in the gym doing extra. A strong culture would sound like accountability — constant communication between players. And a strong culture would taste like desire — all the blood, sweat and tears that ultimately go into winning a championship.

When a team sees beyond the hard portion of hard work, that is when a culture like I just described becomes possible. And aside from that, only 5 percent of my lifetime will be spent doing something most people don’t even have the opportunity to do.  When I first looked at it in this light, I found it pretty crazy.

Four years. That’s it!

I might as well make it count. I want to be a part of a player-driven culture where no one is afraid of a challenge; where my teammates are tough as nails, and we can see the rewards in the end together. And with that, this is what I want to be part of: a team with an identity that cannot be replaced.

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