The Army Crew Team
The Army Crew Team
Colonel Stas Preczewski (Coach P), the coach of the Army Crew team for the United States Military Academy at West Point, nearing the end of the 2002 crew season, found himself in a very unfamiliar spot. One of the coach’s most important jobs was to select the top eight rowers for the Varsity boat and the bottom eight rowers for the Junior Varsity boat. The two boats would race against different levels of competition during the season, but would compete against each other during practices. As he did every year, Coach P. had the crew members individual ergometer results in hand when the team headed to Atlanta for an intensive week of training.
During the Atlanta retreat, Coach P. conducted a series of “seat races” that would ultimately determine which rowers were selected for the Varsity boat. “Seat racing” provided systematic data about how well each rower used his individual skills while coordinating with his teammates in a shell on the water. At the end of the week Coach P. had selected his top eight rowers for the Varsity boat and the bottom 8 for the Junior Varsity boat. The decision was easy for coach and the Varsity team had the top eight scores for individual strength, with two exceptions. Two guys with greater strength were placed on the Junior Varsity due to lack of teamwork and being critical of others.
When the team arrived back at campus, Coach P. found that some of the Varsity members appeared unhappy and critical of one another. Soon after, the Junior Varsity team began beating the Varsity team in practice runs. The Varsity team consisted of the top team members statistically but they came out on the short end of the stick when racing, what was causing this?
The term “team” is defined as a formal group of people interacting very closely together with a shared commitment to accomplish agreed-upon objects. Crew is one of the few sports in which there are no awards for individual performance, therefore the commitment is solely judged in terms of “team.” A key consideration is the mental strength of crew members, who have to be single-mindedly attuned to one other with the common goal of crossing the finish line ahead of all other crews. The Junior varsity team showed great teamwork by always encouraging team members, sticking together and only looking at things from a team perspective instead of singling someone out for an error. The Varsity team, on the other had, was quick to point fingers and blame a particular member for faults and was more concerned with who did something wrong as opposed on how to fix the problems. This lack of teamwork was not improving the crews chances of a successful season.
The norms shared by the Varsity and Junior Varsity are rare, at best. Norms can be defined as the standards of behavior shared