Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Departure from the serious -- what the heck does a team leader do?

Sometimes it feels like the world is against you.
The US team to WOC this year was made up of 10 athletes (5 women, 5 men) and two "team leaders". Everyone already knows what the athletes do -- eat a lot, get nervous, race against the best in the world, make us proud. But what do the team leaders do? Surely these runners, the very best in the US, can feed themselves, dress themselves, start their own race, and turn in their own EMIT bricks? Yes, that's true, they mostly can. But sometimes, when you have 10 of them all together, things get a bit more complicated.

Take this year. We had the poor luck of being assigned accommodations several kms from the event center. Event center == meals. This meant that we had to drive to every meal, including breakfast. With a limited number of vehicles, a limited number of drivers (did you know there are orienteers who can't drive stick?), plus different sleeping and eating habits, start times and training needs, this made for a fun time coordinating the logistics.

A sample of daily schedules from WOC 2013, aka masterpieces.
Another thing the team leaders do is just exist. I don't mean that Erin and I are just so awesome that our presence makes everything better (though that is an interesting hypothesis), I mean that sometimes it's nice, when you're getting ready for the race you've been preparing for for months, to have someone there to do some of the thinking for you, ask some of the tough questions. Things like, "Are you wearing pants?" As a team leader I've handed over emergency headbands, backup compasses and lace tape, loaned watches and control description holders, and saved essential equipment from being thrown away by over-eager volunteers. I have yet to have to take my pants off and hand them over but it's just a matter of time on that one.

A team leader is a familiar face at the start and end of the race, someone to say, "You know how to do this, go out and have fun!" before the run, and "Well done!" at the end of the run. You're allowed to ignore us and storm off when your run sucked. Or you can spend 15 straight minutes talking in excruciating detail about every step of your race, and we're guaranteed to listen and actually be interested.

Humor aside, the most important thing a team leader can do is make sure the team is well fed with sugary deliciousness. This means buying exotic foods like Angry Birds gummies and giant Kvikk Lunsj bars, and making them available to the team as often as possible. A satiated team is a happy team.

It's something I'm working on.


bbrooke said...

Two thumbs up for Kvikk Lunsj bars!!!

Alison said...

Awesome team leadering, thanks Cristina! (Those schedules all lined up are really impressive. Logistics win.)