Championship Culture: A Key on the Path to Success

Author: Alberto Cannistraci, Intern

Championship Culture: A Key on the Path to Success


Every year a countless number of sports teams compete in various types of leagues and tournaments for the title of champion. Although skill levels, strategy and rules of the game may change from sport to sport. One thing similar among the successful teams is they all have the right team culture in their drive to a championship.


There are many types of team cultures, all of which reflect the goals set forth by the team. Some teams simply compete to have fun and fulfill their passion for the game. Other teams will do whatever it takes to win every single contest and focus only on winning. It may not seem like a terrible thing to only focus on winning at first glance. After all, nobody likes losing especially in something they take pride in participating in. However, there are many teams out there that focus too much on winning and it becomes detrimental to the team creating tension between players and sometimes with coaches. These are the “cutthroat” teams that quite frankly don’t care what happens off the field; it is win at all expenses. To attain a good balance between relationships and doing what it takes to get the job done, there are many factors in developing team culture.


First there must be standards set out for the players and coaches to be held accountable to. This is very important to establish early on because the players and coaches need to understand what level they are being held to and what the expectations are. Maegan Villa, a 2016 graduate from Washingtonville (IX) helped lead the girls’ soccer team to the 2012 NYPHSAA State Championship where they were taken to triple overtime against Webster Thomas (V) and won 1-0. “My team set the standards and what we expected to accomplish throughout the whole season. We were the ones that were paving our own path. The coaches and the captains were the ones that helped enforce them especially on the day of the big game.”


Sometimes standards come naturally because of relationships on the team. Sisters Julia and Davia Rossi played key roles for the Schalmont Sabers (Section 2) girls soccer team when they beat Wilson 2-0 to win the Class B State Tournament in 2015. “I think that the whole team set the standards for the culture. Since it was something that did not need to be forced, the relationships were natural and genuine” said Julia.  “We all had a level of respect for one another in knowing how talented we all were and all had a common goal in mind.”


Jonathan Allen, a 2017 graduate from Fort Ann High School (Section 2) states that “Team culture was a very important aspect of our team. We had certain traditions that as a team we did every year. It was what brought us together and made us the team that we were”. Allen a four-year member on the Fort Ann soccer team found success when the team won the Class D state championship in 2015.


“Besides the obvious skill and athleticism required on a successful championship team, team chemistry and bonding off the court is very important,” said Daniel McCarty, a recent graduate of Mekeel Christian Academy (Section 2). McCarty credits the basketball team’s 2018 Class B State Title to the team’s family-like environment “The team culture was very family based. Everyone on my team knew that we all had each other’s backs.”


It is comforting to believe that with great athletic talent, understanding what is required to win and having good relationships amongst teammates that your team is prepared and ready to win. But another key factor in the equation is a team’s resilience. With anything in life there are some things that just cannot be controlled. People have bad days, make mistakes and teams may struggle in a athletic contest one day. Villa mentions “It is very important for the team to be able to handle certain situations and not let the conflict get in the way of the team's main goal.” Across the world of sports, the best teams can have the worst of days if they are not resilient and let conflict get the best of them.


There are plenty of things that contribute to success in a team. All teams have their own ways to spark their success, different game plans, personnel and style of play are all what makes athletics exciting. You never know what your opponent is going to bring to the table, and how the game will play out.


With hard work at practices you can refine skills if you work at it enough and put those skills to the test during games. Players should be playing for their teammates and not themselves. The true champions are the ones that compete as a team and win as a team, thus work to create that championship culture.

Mekeel Christian Academy (Section 2) winning Class B NYSPHSAA State Basketball Finals in 2018