|Cataraqui Clippers U12 Girls|
|League:||Southeast Ontario Soccer Association|
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FOR MANY, THE BEST MOMENTS IN SOCCER are those that reveal the difference between young players in a group and young players as a team. Most of these moments happen on the field—usually when the score is close, time is short and legs are sore. But the difference can show itself beyond the game: When the U12 girls of the Cataraqui Clippers were asked to write about what makes a great team, they answered from separate desks but with remarkably unanimous answers. To the four key team characteristics of pride, spirit, community commitment and passion, the girls in their common voice inadvertently revealed a fifth: a true team shares an understanding of what it means to be a team. The girls described how the team shows its pride and sense of achievement through soccer. Pride, they wrote, inspires them to want to push hard, to show up at practices and games, to participate fully to avoid letting their teammates down. Others said pride and dedication were about wearing the team uniform or chanting the team cheer at the start each half-game. Some wrote of team pride as a shared belief in sportsmanship and in respect and courtesy for opposing teams. Most, however, described team pride and achievement using a common term that perhaps reflects the best measure of both: nothing makes players more proud or more aware of their accomplishments than the growing bonds of friendship. Team spirit, the girls said, was a vital building block for player and team confidence. Many said this spirit was responsible for making everyone feel included. It shows itself, they wrote, in a shared sense of fun on the field, in the laughter and cheers together. It echoes in the encouraging shouts urging teammates to go harder, go faster or go farther. Mostly, however, team spirit is a mutual sense of what the girls described as “trust”—the indomitable belief that teammates back each other up, that they do their best for the sake of the team.
A commitment to community arises almost naturally from team pride and team spirit. For the past two years, for example, the team raised money for families and children with cancer. Re-christening themselves as “the Clipper Cancer Crushers,” the girls pedaled tirelessly during the annual “Inside Ride” event to successfully raise more than $6,000 for nearby Camp Trillium for kids with cancer and the Children's Cancer Fund at Kingston General Hospital. The commitment was inspired, in part, by a team rallying around a teammate who has spent years helping her sister fight the disease.
Writing about their passion and dedication to soccer, the girls were equally clear. Passion, they said, is when no one gives up—even when the point-spread is against them and the clock is winding down. It is when players work as hard during practices as they might during a crucial championship game. In short, passion is simply the team’s tireless dedication to the sport and the collective belief that a love of soccer quite possibly conquers all