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Leadership Continues to Keep Good Programs at the Top as Younger Competitors Learn the Right Lessons

Leadership Continues to Keep Good Programs at the Top as Younger Competitors Learn the Right Lessons

Leadership is one of the most important traits an aging athlete can take on throughout their career.

“Aging,” in this case, being used to fit into the athletic endeavor, meaning that a senior in high school fits into this category since they have been a member of the team for four years or have grown with the program.

In team sports, it’s easy to spot the leaders on the team. Often they are designated the captain or play one of the premier positions. In individual sports, the line between leader and participant can at times become blurred. At times an individual sport is exactly that — as the competitor doesn’t have time to help younger athletes along.

That isn’t the case for Jersey Shore’s swimming program that features a host of seniors willing to help lead the younger crop of competitors.

“A lot of the younger swimmers aren’t as confident in themselves,” Jersey Shore swimmer Jordan O’Connor said. “They are a little scared to be with some of the ‘A’ swimmers or the better swimmers. You have to really encourage them so they know they can do it. They just have to prove themselves, so they know they can swim with us.”

O’Connor’s leadership skills were on full display recently as the Bulldogs mixed events up in an effort to reverse an early season stumble that resulted in two consecutive losses. Relays were mixed up, swimmers were moved to unfamiliar events, and the results were exactly what the team needed.

O’Connor is normally a backstroke swimmer but proved she can do any stroke in the pool as she topped the field in the 100 fly. She was also thrown into the mix with relay teams she hadn’t swum with all season.

“It’s really interesting,” O’Connor said. “You get to try something new, and there’s not a lot of pressure on you to do well, because you’re just trying something out for the first time. You never know. You might like it and get put in something that you don’t get put into often.”

O’Connor is a team leader who fully embraces her role on the team, but what about the younger members of the teams and how they deal with leadership?

For Montoursville’s Jacob Fillinger that leadership was important as he joined the team late.

“It was a lot to come out for the team,” Fillinger said. “There’s going to be a lot of seats to fill when the seniors leave. A lot of the seniors have been here since they were freshmen.”

Fillinger is in the middle of his second year with the team, and the leadership given to him by swimmers like Sam Jordan has been invaluable.

“It’s good to look up to them because they know what they are doing,” Fillinger said. “There’s always room for improvement.”

Whether it’s a team sport or individual, leadership will always be one of the keys to a successful program. Both Jersey Shore and Montoursville swimmers have benefited from good leaders both in and outside the pool.

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