By Kyle Killgore
Every team has them—the players who stake their claim to the sideline, who don’t get much time on the field or court. These players are labeled as the benchwarmers, or the practice team. Fans, or fellow teammates sometimes look down on these players, but many don’t understand what these players do to improve the team.
Most sports fans have seen the movie Rudy, about a man from Notre Dame who was on the practice squad of the football team for three years and finally dressed the last game of his senior year. This is a clear example of the heart that many of the “benchwarmers” possess. It is easy to say that standing on the sideline is an easy task, but in fact, it is one of the hardest obstacles an athlete must overcome.
For someone standing on the sideline, it would be easy to give up on yourself and quit the team, knowing that you won’t get to play in the game anyway. That would be the easiest way out. The hard thing is going to practice every day, putting stress physically on your body and mentally on your mind, and knowing that everything you are doing is for the love of the game– rather than to prepare for the next game.
What many do not realize is that the benchwarmers bring something else to the field during practice that some of the position players lack—that is heart and love for the game. Coaches will generally say that they are going to play their best players because, in any sport, that is how you win. The problem is many talented players have a tendency to be lazy. They have nothing to fight for. They have their job won, while the players on the sidelines have something they are working toward. Now, that is not a rule in either situation, but being an athlete for many years of my life, I have seen that the more talented players have less motivation during practice.
As far as I am concerned, every successful team needs their fair share of benchwarmers. So for all of the benchwarmers out there, this is an ode to you. This for all you do during practice, taking credit as a team, win, loss or tie, even knowing you never saw the field. Keep putting your heart into everything you do at practice, and always love the game.
Kyle Killgore is a freshman majoring in communication. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.