What Does It Mean to Be Part of a Team?

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Coaches hammer home the concept of honorably representing yourself, your team and your school. Over time, you learn that how you present yourself to your teammates, coaches and fellow students has a strong impact on your success. If you do it poorly, college recruiters will want nothing to do with you. If you do it well, you will enhance your team's image, and you might even catch the attention of a college coach who can offer you a scholarship.

UCLA is an excellent model. "We have to be great student-athletes," says former Bruin tight end Logan Paulsen. "We have great demands in the classroom, we have great demands on the football field."

Like the Bruins, you're expected to balance both sets of demands as a student-athlete. College recruiters don't want players who give their all on the field but who embarrass themselves academically and lose their eligibility. To make it to the next level, you have to work just as hard in the classroom as you do on the field.

"Everything's tradition," adds former linebacker Reggie Carter. "You're representing yourself, the guys who come after you and a lot of guys that came before you." Elite college programs like UCLA's have enthusiastic, proud booster organizations, loyal coaches, administrators and fans—none of whom want to see their school's image tarnished. If you disrespect your team or school in high school, college coaches will more than likely view your behavior as destructive and take you off their lists. Represent yourself and your team with the same pride and dedication as you feel toward your family.

"You gotta just play hard and just be hungry and humble," says defensive end Datone Jones. Some athletes can get away with being self-absorbed "stars" in high school, but once they reach the next level, they are in for a major reality check. Coaches, teammates and fans do not appreciate athletes who put themselves above the team. To gain respect for your talents, you must always put your team's success ahead of your own. Be hungry enough to want the ball with the game on the line, but be humble after you score the winning touchdown.

The old saying, "There's no 'I' in TEAM" is corny but true. College recruiters want athletes who will reflect credit on their programs. Being part of a team is a privilege. Egomaniacs need not apply. Remember to stay hungry and humble as you work to accomplish your personal and team goals.

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