My name is Spencer Springsteel and I have been playing Water Polo since I was 12 years old. I have also remained on the same year round club team (DACA) during this entire time, in addition to playing for my High School, Monta Vista in Cupertino California.
When I turned 15, in addition to my own playing I was asked to start coaching and mentoring younger players in the DACA program. Over this last summer, I was also hired to coach a program called "Bug Ball" where two other coaches and I worked with a group of 5 and 6 year olds teaching them the basics of water polo (swimming, passing, etc). When I turned 16, I took on the additional, paid job of coaching the 14 and under team that I also played on when I was younger two nights a week. I have really enjoyed these leadership positions working for DACA and learned a lot about myself during this time which I would like to share with you.
When I first joined the DACA team we were a pretty small club, but my team and I performed stronger every year, including consistently strong performance at JO's and as a result we began to build a larger program. When I came back to coach the younger players, they really relied on my experience and guidance to help them build stronger capabilities and confidence as players. Seeing the impact that resulted from my coaching of these younger players, and the difference it has made, I have realized how much I enjoy teaching other players and the responsibility and trust that comes with positions of authority and leadership. I feel so much pride when seeing them make progress each week, no matter how small and I try to ensure they are seeing it too at each and every step.
Leading by example has always been my personal mantra and I still feel just as strongly about that. My second year on Varsity (my Junior year),my coach also relied on me for a continued leadership role in and out of the pool. As an incoming a Junior last year, I was not a team captain as that is reserved for Seniors, but I was the one my coach would rely on and I have some specific examples of this.
1. He would ask to pull together team meetings
2. He would email me notes to strategize in advance of games
3. I helped ensure that all of our team continued to play off season and year round, and ideally for the same club so we could continue to grow together as a team
4. Also, if I learn one of my fellow team mates is ever struggling for any reason and at any time, I quickly reach out to them to determine how I can best help and ensuring they know the entire team is behind them.
John C Maxwell said, "A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way" and that a perfect statement in terms of the leader I continue to aspire to be both as a player with my team in addition to my work with younger, more inexperienced players. I have also realized that I do not need to be asked or seek permission to lead, rather I actively look for those opportunities where I can make a difference and seize those moments.
I think the greatest reinforcement I have received is from not only my coach, but the parents of the younger players who I am coaching, and their positive feedback and belief that I am truly making a difference in their children’s lives. Not only as student athletes, but more importantly in the additional development of their character and confidence and how they carry themselves every day. Of all of the above, this is something that I feel the most proud about and it is my hope it helps you to understand a bit more about me as a person in addition to a player.