There Are No Small Parts Only Small Actors

The title of this article is of course purloined from the great russian actor/director Constanin Stanislavski. His contributions to the theatre included the process and term “method acting” where the actor brought their own unique experiences to the stage as their contribution to the finished product. I have obviously been an enthusiastic supporter of athletics in the academic setting because it provides a real life experience for its participants on organizing and participating in a successful enterprise. That is not to say another person can’t get the same benefits from playing in an orchestra, singing in a choir or being a member of the staff of the student newspaper. It all depends on your talents and interests.


I  think sometimes we focus too much on the star of the show, the soloist, the feature writer, the goal scorer or the touchdown maker. But the successful teams are teams that focus on team goals. Yes, there are always stand out talents, but most often its how the team works together that allows for real accomplishment.

I am friends with a brilliant biochemist who was doing cancer research  at a  major academic institution. As it turned out there were several other researchers at the same institution doing the same line of research. His frustration was that there was very little cooperation between them. The research efforts became a race as to who might get the next Nobel, or other recognition rather than speeding to an ultimate solution . There was spying, plagiarism, and in one sad case of fabrication of data which actually delayed solutions as resources were diverted. It resulted in a halt to funding of other projects as policies and procedures had to be reexamined by the university to receive any additional grants.

Indeed, some of that example was just arrogance, but I am positing that the making of successful enterprises are usually the result many smaller contributions that add to the ultimate goal. In athletics, the goal scorer is the product of hard practices against talented teammates whose contribution it is to help that person perform better in a game. In many ways, its a harder role to accept but it is part of the learning experience that can be applied in other contexts. When that second alto in the choir becomes a surgeon she will remember her experience in the making of beautiful music and organize her surgical team to provide the best service and save lives by surrounding herself with the best talent available.

Our team is off to a good start, and we will not know where it ends until the last whistle of the last game, but no doubt, if successful, everyone will have earned that championship ring not just the goal maker. It’s why I love  sports. It’s why I love a fine orchestra or a well run corporate organization. Each of those successful organizations realize there are no small parts!!!



The Colgate Raiders invade Rappolt Field this Saturday at noon. They feature a new coach and a lot of new players. When I interviewed our captains earlier this season they opined there are no easy games, every opponent must be respected. The most important game is the next one. Well this is a league game AND the next one…GO PARDS!!


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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