New leadership brings new opportunities for fall sports teams

Timothy Wallis

Leadership can be defined as many things. In sports, every team needs to have a leader that can bring the team together to achieve the ultimate goal, winning. Though it differs from sport to sport, team leaders are usually upperclassmen with a lot of experience playing as a team and can help the younger players focus. When those upperclassmen leave, the leadership change can be challenging for any team. New team players have to step up and become the leaders that came before them. 

For the women’s volleyball team, that change in leadership has its challenges but also brings new exciting opportunities. Junior Sarah Sorrell understood the common challenges of any senior class leaving and is ready to take on a bigger role. She believes that the change will help them grow and get better.

“I think that there are always some growing pains with graduating class of seniors in any regard, not just specifically with our leadership right now, but in past years and everything like that,” Sorrell said. “It’s also us rising seniors growing up and realizing, ‘Okay, well, we’re kind of running the show now.’ How do we do that in the most efficient way but also the most respectful way?”

One group that has not been too bothered by the change in leadership is the football team. So far, over the course of spring practice, leadership has not been a problem. Despite losing some key players, they also return many players from last year who are ready to take on the challenge of leading the team. For junior Cole Bhardwaj, leadership is one area where the team has done well in the offseason.

“There’s been a handful of guys from my class that have really stepped up into that leadership role, kind of replacing the people that we had last year,” Bhardwaj said. “But I would say our main core of leaders is all coming back for a fifth year so it hasn’t been too rough on us.”

Junior David Schwartz is not worried about any potential challenges that come with changes for the men’s golf team. Out of the 14 players on the roster, four are seniors, but with the current junior class, there are few worries about leadership holes being left. 

“I don’t think it will change that much,” Schwartz said, “I feel like this junior class, we’re more laid back. We just don’t mess around. That’s kind of who we are, at least from what I’ve seen.”

The women’s soccer team is also having a smooth transition of leadership. The senior players on the team being on campus for the beginning of the offseason is one thing that is helping the transition. As junior Liesl Whitener practices during the off-season, she thinks the juniors are ready to be leaders.

“It’s been a smooth transition. The seniors are still here, so that’s nice. We can still talk and collaborate with them, but I think we will build off of what they established this season, and we’ll keep working and make it only better.”

Whitener was a first-team All-CCIW player during the 2022 season but hopes to become more than that for the next fall season.

“I’m hoping that I can be a good role model who people can look up to and leave the program better than I found it,” Whitener said.