STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — How much do you trust your teammates?
That question was posed to Faith Academy of Marble Falls football players on a team-building and life skills day Aug. 7.
New athletics director and head football coach Jeremy Wentrcek scheduled the day during fall training camp so his players could get to know each other and learn how to do everyday activities that they can use long after graduation.
But it was the team-building activities, designed to instill trust, that got the players’ attention.
One activity called for the players to gather around a large rock, on top of which stood a teammate. That player would tell the others what he would sacrifice for the team. Then, he’d close his eyes and fall backward into the waiting arms of his teammates.
“You’re letting your team know you have a trust in them to catch you,” junior Will Wilson said.
While many would fear being dropped, Wilson said that wasn’t an issue for him.
“It’s scarier to catch them,” he said. “It’s like trying to find a way to help them.”
(There were no reports of dropped players.)
Another activity was the trust walk, during which a blindfolded player listened to the verbal instructions of his partner as he walked near the water. The one who couldn’t see had to trust that his teammate wouldn’t let him fall in.
They also played the human knot game. Gathered in a circle, they joined hands in various directions then had to get untangled without letting go of each other’s hands.
Sophomore Grayson Poage’s favorite part of the day was sitting with his teammates and sharing what football meant to each of them. He noted most thought of the team as a band of brothers that requires trust and sacrifice. They told each other what they would do to help better the Flames.
Grayson said he’d get into better shape.
Both student-athletes said the day accomplished what coaches wanted.
“I felt like we bonded pretty well as a team,” Wilson said. “We still have a ways to go, but we trust each other.”
“I trust my teammates more,” Poage said.
Before they broke for the day, the players enjoyed a game of football in the water.
“I think they left more tired after that than our regular practices,” Wentrcek said.
Among the life skills they learned were how to tie a necktie, how to dress for success, and the proper words to say in certain situations.
Wentrcek was pleased with how his players participated, listened, and said they’d implement what they had learned.
“You learn while you’re having fun and you don’t know you’re learning,” he said. “They’re highly entertaining for me. I can sit and watch them grow. They’re good kids.”
Wentrcek believes there are people with natural-born leadership ability, but teaching and learning how to use those traits are important.
“That’s one thing I’m passionate about,” he said.
Wentrek, who is in his first year at Faith Academy, is creating the Student Athlete Leadership Team (SALT) to identify potential leaders. These students could be captains of their squads, leaders in their positions, or other contributors. The group will meet once a month.
One question Wentrcek helps students answer is how they can lead without having a role such as team captain. He believes leadership can be as simple as befriending the student sitting alone in the lunch room.
The athletics director said Faith Academy’s small student enrollment makes this an ideal campus for SALT because the students are asked to fill many roles.
“Our kids are great kids,” he said. “Anywhere you go, students have to be taught the concepts of understanding the responsibilities of things outside yourself.”