March Madness

It’s finally March, by far my favorite month of the year…it’s March Madness!!  For those of you who aren’t sure about what that means, it’s the end of the college basketball season in USA.  As the season finishes there are league tournaments and then the big end of the year tournament to determine the National Champion.  For basketball fans it doesn’t get any better than this, the unpredictability of the tournaments creates a sense of ‘madness’ and hence the name…it’s awesome!  What does that have to do with education though??

This season my team, the University of Wisconsin Badgers, were off to a rough start.  Last year the played in the championship game (they lost unfortunately) and lost a lot of players to graduation and leaving to play in the NBA.  This season started off poorly, they lost to teams they had no business losing too.  Then, out of the blue, right in the middle of the season their legendary coach decided to retire.  He left a team who was already struggling to his long-time assistant coach and said ‘good luck’.  It was a recipe for disaster in almost everyone’s eyes.

Except there was one person in particular who believed that success was still possible…the new head coach.  The season isn’t over yet but at this point we’ve already seen an incredible turn around.  The team who started out by losing most of it’s early games has won 11 of their last 12 games and is set to finish in the top three in their league…simply amazing!  So how did they do it?

It all started with their new coach.  He went back to basics, he literally went back to the foundation.  Stories came out about how the coach brought bricks into the locker room.  Each player took one and wrote a word or phrase about what they could do to help the team.  Words like “selfless”, “heart”, and “leader” were shared.  These bricks were then placed in the locker room, a sign of the foundation that this team would stand on for their renewed effort for the season ahead.  The idea was that you can’t build anything with just one brick and if you try to build with missing pieces then your results won’t stand.  Basketball is a team game and the brick foundation is as true an analogy as any…no one can do it alone, we all need to work together.

At the end of the first semester I wrote about how it takes a village to raise a child, it couldn’t be more true.  I think the brick foundation analogy works well with that African proverb.  Together we can achieve our goals, as a department team, as a division, as a school…team work is the key to achieving our biggest goals.

We have an amazing team here at AC.  The amount of experience, knowledge, and energy that we’ve pulled together to guide our students toward success is absolutely astonishing.  Every student at this school can benefit from the collective effort of the amazing faculty and staff.  To ensure this success we need to come together to form an indestructible team.  Maybe the 80’s were just filled with so much teamwork brainwash material (Voltron, Thundercats, Ghostbusters) that I can’t help but feel that coming together as a team is the solution to all the world’s problems…perhaps it’s just my optimistic attitude 🙂  Either way, I’m confident that teamwork is the way to go.

I know many of you work closely with your department teams and other colleagues.  It’s a busy and stressful time of year for all of us.  Take care of yourself, find your balance, and ensure that your teammates are well cared for as well.  Success for the remainder of the year lies in us coming together as the dynamic and talented team that we are.  It’s never too late to stop and reevaluate the foundation…what word would you write on your brick?