Welcome back to Part 2 of our CCA Leadership blog post! Let me share with you my experience and the lessons I have gained from it.
My lowest point
For context, I played the sport on a competitive level in my secondary school team before joining it in JC. Hence I was already an experienced player. On the contrary, my team mostly consists of inexperienced players. That placed me in a position to lead by helping them with technical aspects of the sport. By taking initiative to organise dinners after training and helping others out on court, I was able to demonstrate that I have potential to be the CCAL.
Due to COVID, there was no sports season in JC1 and 2, and that was extremely demoralising for my batch. I set stringent fitness standards for the team selection process, and yet, everyone’s hard work was in vain. This placed much more responsibility on the EXCO to help make sure that everyone is still committed to the CCA and bonded as a batch. This meant that we had to plan our own activities to provide something to look forward to, such as a camp and our own internal competition. We had to plan these activities while considering safe-distancing measures, which understandably, could cause quite a lot of stress to anyone.
At the same time, my grades were a mess. There’s a reason why it’s called “student athlete” not “athlete student”, because we are students first, athletes second. If my grades were bad, I would have to spend more time on studying as compared to a CCAL who found academics a breeze and could spend more time helping the CCA.
I had high-achieving friends who were also sports CCALs. Yet, they seemingly had no problems bonding with their team.
I was really at my lowest point.
How I got over the slump
Thus with the encouragement of my friend, I decided to seek help from the school counsellor. Obviously, she may not have been the most useful at providing me with concrete advice on how I can be a better CCAL. However, what mattered was that she was someone for me to just talk to and help me rationalise my negative emotions. The talk allowed me to have the headspace to actually think of what I can do to become better. I also had support groups within and outside of CCA for me to talk to when I need help.
Eventually I did get over the slump. However, sometimes when I see other CCAs being super bonded, I do feel that I could have done more. Yet at the same time, I now understand that there’s only so much I can do as a CCAL.
For example, I would consider the majority of my teammates to be on the introverted side. I also empathised that after a long day, they may just want to go home instead of eating team dinner. As the CCAL, all I can do is invite them every time and let them know that they are welcome to join us.
And what truly brought me the most joy was when my teammates let me know that I made a difference. (Remember reason for running?)
One instance of this was when my teammate told me the camp we organised pulled him out from his low point in life, and was the best experience he had in JC.
1. Being a consistent leader is difficult, but very effective
To me, what it means to be consistent would be to have a clear and specific set of principles for the team to follow, regardless of who the person is or the circumstances.
An example of a principle that I followed would be to not break the school rules. Something really annoying was that because training always ended very late, the school would close the gate nearest to the MRT by the time we were there. In all honesty, we could easily climb the gate and that would be much more convenient. However, because of this principle I had, I would make sure all of my teammates go by the long way. My reason for this principle was to protect my team from getting into trouble.
I also made sure to mete out punishment in a clear and fair manner.
Even if a member of the EXCO was late for training, we would also do the appropriate number of push ups. (1 min = 5 push ups) This sends a clear signal to everyone that we hold everyone to the same standards, even ourselves as EXCO members. In addition, no one would receive special treatment, which is also my next point.
2. Treat everyone equally
As mentioned, my batch mainly consists of inexperienced players and had a few experienced players. It was important to establish right at the start that experienced players will not be getting any sort of preferential treatment. (Eg. more playing time, skipping warm-up, or exemption from physical training (because apparently people think they can))
It would suck for someone to come to CCA after a long day and not get any court time because the experienced players are hogging the court. This was especially important for me as I did not want the inexperienced players to feel left out. Thus, I made a promise to them that I will bring the joy of the sport to them.
3. Understand the people
My experience and takeaways from my CCAL journey could be vastly different from yours, depending on the type of your CCA and the people. (Even in individual sports CCA vs team sports CCA, the dynamics can be different.) As a CCAL, you need to understand that everyone in your CCA is unique. Therefore, you cannot adopt an one-size-fits-all approach to your leadership.
For example, some of my teammates go hard while others may see the CCA as an outlet for stress release. Since academics in JC are already super stressful, they do not need another source of stress. It is important for you to see the nuance in leadership and adjust accordingly.
For example, after a particularly tough training, I would privately message some of my teammates to check up on them.
On the contrary, if PT was quite chill that day, I would ask the team if anyone wants to go for another round during the break.
Ultimately, it is impossible to cater to everyone’s needs fully, and sometimes leaders need to make compromises.
4. Do your best and don’t have any regrets
You are setting yourself up for disappointment if you focus on the outcome instead of the process. I set off on my leadership journey aiming for a medal for my team. However, we didn’t even get the chance to compete. So if you do decide to start your leadership journey, it is alright if things don’t turn out as imagined. As long as you did your best, be content with that.
Even if you may eventually decide to not run for CCAL, there will still be opportunities for you to lead. (OGL, VIA etc.) Ending off with a quote (from me), “You do not need a title to be a leader, and neither does a title make you a leader.” Hopefully I offered another perspective to becoming a CCAL, and aided you in your decision-making!