An Underclassman Stunt

It was a brisk, fall evening near the end of soccer season. Megan was a high school senior and starting striker on the team. She was excited to play the full 90 minutes of her favorite sport. She had recently received the all clear from the team doctor after having been out for a year with a torn ACL. So it was even more important to her to make this night, Senior Night, memorable. She knew the game would be a tough one. The team they were playing was talented and strong. Adding to the excitement, the game was going to be played under the lights at the football stadium.

The season had had several ups and downs. It was the coach’s first season with them, and it seemed evident that he was out of his element trying to coach 25 high school girls. But tonight they were all focused on one thing – winning.

The whistle blew and the game started off as planned: all seniors were in the starting lineup. But fifteen short minutes into the game, with two major scoring opportunities missed, the coach decided to pull Megan and two other seniors, including the team captain out of the game. They were barely off the field before they started firing questions at the coach. “Why are we being taken out? We are seniors! Everyone left on the field is too inexperienced! The other team is going to score any minute!” The coach provided no explanation, but another teammate was happy to fill the information void.

She explained:

An overconfident and cocky underclassman, Shana, had believed she was the missing link to put her team in the lead. She had demanded that the coach put her in the game. After the two missed scores the coach gave into her demands.

The displaced seniors where furious! How dare an underclassman pull such a stunt? More importantly, why was the coach listening to her?

Megan and her fellow senior teammates decided to take matters into their own hands. They waited about five minutes to see if Shana could make a difference in the game. She wasn’t. Without speaking to the coach, Megan and the team captain walked over to the 50 yard line and waited to be substituted in. As the ref put them into the game the coach stood in disbelief at their audacity..

A short two minutes later, Megan scored a goal, off of an assist from the team captain. For them, this small victory was evidence that they were right and pumped their adrenaline. They teamed up twice more to score a goal each; leading their team to victory while Shana stomped up and down the sidelines complaining to anyone who would listen.

The hurt feelings and anger from that night lingered for the rest of the season. Megan and her fellow seniors graduated with the distrust and disrespect displayed that night unforgotten and unresolved.

Do you think the win justifies Megan’s action to go over the coach’s head during the game? What do you think would be the impact on the team for next season? Will the actions of three seniors carryover into girls believing they can sub in and out at will, without input from the coach?

Let us know what you think!


  1. Cathie Tregoning says

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  2. This one I would go very simple. My question should have been Does everyone understand the 2 ground rules? and leave it at that. More often than not when this happens the person is being funny’ in answering the question that was posed. Ideally, we ask the question for understanding from the start and then we don’t risk having to deal with this. As Action Learning Coaches it’s important that we leave everything up to the team. Any additional norms should not be imposed on the teams. Someone had indicated they have a rule for confidentiality. Rather than impose this rule on the team, start the session by asking what level of confidentiality the team wants to adhere to. Someone else mentioned, they would take the person aside and talk to them. As an Action Learning Coach our role is to pose a question to the team and let them figure out how to handle it. It was also mentioned to revisit it directly with the person on a subsequent checkin. Since, the challenge was due to my asking a bad question, i would drop it after correcting myself. Additionally, the only time we ask someone a question directly during a checkin, are the 3 occasions when everyone has to answer, and immediately after someone has responded to one of my questions.

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