Originally written by Kait Taylor-Asquini on roadtocacuss.ca May 14, 2015 as part of #RoadToCACUSS, a professional journey from Toronto to Vancouver, in an RV.
As we’ve been gearing up for the road, one of the topics that consistently comes up is the space (or lack there of) that we’ll be living in for the week leading up to CACUSS 2015. I can honestly say, it’s not something I’ve been worried about. A good chunk of my university career (both as a student and staff) has been hanging out and travelling with large groups of people as a basketball player and now, a coach. I’d like to share a couple of things from my experience on the road that I think will translate to the #RoadtoCACUSS:
Travel Well With Others
Aside from the obvious benefits of having seen most of Ontario and a good chunk of Canada, I’m accustomed to travelling with up to 40 people at any given time. Travelling in tight bus quarters with upwards of 40 male and female basketball players and coaches will make six in a 30’ RV a piece of cake. Working around a regimented travel schedule—no problem. Our wake-up time, breakfast time, meeting time, lunch time, and dinner time are all scheduled down to the minute on the road with the team. Thanks to RU Eats, we’ll have no problem keeping everyone fed on the road…full stomachs equal happy colleagues.
Everyone has a role. Knowing your role is equally as important. On a basketball team of 15, a maximum of 12 people can suit up for a game. In that group of 12, some may play 35 minutes and others may not see the floor. Understanding your value and the role you play in the overall process will contribute greatly to the success of the squad. The players at the end of the bench are just as important as those on the floor. On the RV, for example, the role of Troy, Hamza, Nick, and I will be to drive along the route. Brandon and Jen are responsible for emptying the holding tank (just kidding, we have a rule around the RV bathroom in our roommate agreement).
Different Strokes for Different Folks
I’m not a yeller. I occasionally raise my voice on the court, but only with purpose (usually so everyone can hear what I’m trying to say; I’m a bit of a mumbler). Knowing how to communicate with players on the floor in a way to evoke their best possible response is crucial for growth and development. Understanding the preferred communication styles of the people around you will encourage more effective and impactful dialogue. Eight months of spending a significant amount of time with Jen, Troy, Brandon, Hamza, and Nick has provided a pretty good perspective into how to communicate with one another. Considering our individual preferences as we work through challenges on the road will keep tension low.
Student athletes playing in post-secondary are already leaders and have an understanding of what it means to lead others (whether they realize it or not). They are leaders on the court, field, or ice, leaders on campus, and in the community. Knowing when to step back and let the players lead is an important aspect of effective coaching. In an RV full of leaders, knowing when to follow is just as important as taking the lead. Asking “How can I help?” or holding your tongue when the driver insists it’s a right turn instead of left (when you can say for certain that it is a left) will contribute to the positive atmosphere and vibes along the road.
The lessons I’ve learned from coaching will, no doubt, play an important part in the role I play on the road. These skills also factor into my connections and conversations with the students I interact with and colleagues I collaborate with on campus each day. Facilitating the leadership program has provided lots of opportunities for collaboration across the university. Understanding our roles, communicating effectively, and knowing when to lead and follow allows us to do what we do best–create exceptional experiences for student engagement. It’s our time to lead…and I’m ready.