When Teammates Become Family 

Men’s basketball celebrates a win as a team. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRIS M. LEUNG/DONS ATHLETICS

Fans are able to see how teammates interact on game day but their bond goes much further. Team environments are created in the shared pre-game rituals, the hangouts outside of gametime, and are the recipe to a family dynamic between players. 

Isador Nicolai is in the last semester of her master’s program for professional communication, a setter for women’s indoor/outdoor volleyball, and a defender for women’s beach volleyball. In an interview with the Foghorn, Nicolai talked about the atmosphere in the locker room before games. “We blast music and we are all pumping each other up, talking about the game and being excited and getting in that game day vibe,” said Nicolai. She said that the team always eats together and watches footage together before a game. 

Nicolai said the most important thing about the routine is when the team gathers around for a prayer head coach Diogo Silva has come up with. “He always says motivational and inspirational things,” said Nicolai. The team also hangs out with one another when they’re not working out, spend time together on the weekends, and uplift their teammates after games that don’t go as expected. 

Isaiah Hawthorne is a third-year business management major and a guard/forward for the men’s basketball team. “Before games the locker room is super hyped, everyone brings their own unique energy that ignites and gets everyone hyped,” said Hawthorne. The men’s team is all about creating a carefree environment and getting energized. Before their games, Hawthorne said their coach shuts off the lights and plays a song for the boys to get amped up to. Often, they are Chief Keef’s “Love Sosa” or NBA Youngboy songs. “We have a bond that can’t be broken,” said Hawthorne. “We’re really like brothers, hold each other accountable and never take it personal. We have a lot of fun with each other and joke around — sometimes too much — off the court.” 

Tim Riley, head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams and Claire Green, director of operations for the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams, sat down with the Foghorn to talk about the environment and dynamic of the cross country team. “Track and field competitions can last anywhere from nine in the morning to nine at night sometimes, so our interactions are with the athletes as individuals,” said Riley. This not only allows the coaches to see the improvement of the players, Riley said,  but form personal connections with the team.  “It has been really rewarding to see the team starting to bond… We have a really supportive team of athletes,” said Green.   

First-year finance major and midfielders for the men’s soccer team, Kian Jones and Mason Dougherty, and the head coach Chris Brown also sat down with the Foghorn and reflected on the strong start they had to their last season. “A lot of times people take their own time to reflect, then the next day come together as a team and talk about it,” said Jones. Sticking together through wins and losses has strengthened the team and made looking forward to next season more exciting. Dougherty said he was “excited to meet all the new guys coming in because everyone I met on the team so far I like and is like a brother to all of us since we spend so much time together.” The team has grown close in their short time on campus and still expects to welcome in new players to grow their family.  

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