Leadership And Example Will Translate To Success

The Lafayette Field Hockey Team have elected three captains this year who have set goals to lead and motivate this group of already dedicated student athletes. As hard as preseason may be, once the season begins and 24/7 concentration on team formation is behind them, there will be the everyday distractions that student athletes will face. Aside from the obvious pressures of succeeding as a student that can be every bit as challenging as her responsibilities as an athlete, there are the social pressures that every young person faces. There will be sacrifices to be made and the team captains are not to be there as disciplinarians but peer leaders to remind their teammates they are just that…. a team with an overall goal.

This year the team will be led by three captains, two seniors and a junior. There is no doubt about their ability on the field, but all three have showed their willingness to demonstrate their devotion to team goals by example. Ellen Colbourne and Cody Hunsicker have had 4 years of success on the field and in the classroom, and have learned to prioritize and organize their lives as student athletes. No less dedicated is Junior Rachel Bird who already has shown her leadership on the field as a strong defender  and student.

All three are graduates of the Oaks Leadership Academy, which is an endowed program given by Cindy and Judd Linville in memory of her father Dr. Wilbur Oaks on the anniversary of his 60th year after  graduation from Lafayette. It is an ongoing program to teach student athletes on how to lead and the qualities of a successful leader. One student described the five elements of vocal leadership taught by the program.

  1. The idea of a servant leader- a person who is there to  get their team through the tough times and rise above difficulty.
  2. Confidence builder- To inspire confidence and lead their team past inevitable down periods
  3. Refocuser- To rededicate the team to team goals when distracted by other events
  4. Team Builder- To remind teammates of building a team attitude before self
  5. Enforcer- speaking and reminding the team of their goals and rules to enable success.

All three have captured those ideas and have adopted specific goals to make a successful season. All three agreed on the need to score more goals. While that may seem obvious, there are elements of a disciplined game that get you to meet these goals. Cody Hunsicker mentioned  they must learn to avoid turnovers, and keep in mind the benefits of maintaining possession. Ellen Colbourne will remind the team to respect every opponent and never take victory for granted. Rachel Bird stressed the need to support and work together to meet team goals.

For the two senior captains, they have dedicated themselves not to leave any regrets on the field. This is their last shot as student athletes, and they want to make the most of it. Rachel Bird affirmed the senior’s goals and said she and the rest of the team would like to do it for them.

I asked the three captains about the newest Leopards, and they were enthusiastic. “They fit into our culture and everyone understands they have to learn a lot in a short period of time”. They were excited by the potential additional talent, and enthusiasm the freshmen bring to practice and eventually to games.

Ellen Colburne will be a student mentor and an intern during the new Oaks Academy sessions. A prestigious assignment!!

It is about two weeks until the opening whistle, and I asked what game are they looking forward to. They all answered, ” The next game always. We always focus on the coming game.”

They will have two preseason games to start putting it all altogether against Hoftra on the 25th. Thursday night the Leopards will take on Monmouth at 6 pm at Rappolt Field and next week there will be the last rehearsal against Columbia.


Yesterday the team turned into fans as they drove out to Spooky Nook to watch the US team and ex teammate Amanda Magadan take on the Candadian National team ( who had several ex-teammates of many of our Leopards). The US got a come from behind 2-1 win in an exciting match of skill, fitness, and strategy. Before that our Leopards were treated to lunch by Meg Lillis’ and her parents at her nearby home.

Back to work today!!!

Published by

William Rappolt

I am past chairman of the Lafayette Friends of Field Hockey and a former BOT member at Lafayette College. My wife and I are members of the Board of Trustees for USA Field Hockey Foundation. I am currently Chairman of that Board. I am the retired treasurer of M and T Bank Corporation and a 30 year fan of Division one field hockey

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