Jayhawks’ Chemistry Strengthened by Rock Chalk Teams
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Strong team chemistry played a vital role in Kansas Softball making it to the 2014 NCAA tournament. With similar goals in mind, the Jayhawks continue to build team camaraderie in preparation for the upcoming season.
To help strengthen the bond, head coach Megan Smith established a tradition called Rock Chalk Teams in her first season at KU. Six years later, the Rock Chalk Teams continue to be an important part of bringing the team together.
“The Rock Chalk Teams is a good way to promote competiveness and team bonding,” said Smith. “They players build relationships within those small groups. We mix positions and classes, so it gives them a chance to bond with players outside their own position or class. It’s a great way to have them compete on and off the field. It’s also a fun thing for the team and they have a lot of pride for their Rock Chalk Team. It’s fun to watch them compete on those teams.”
At the beginning of each year, Smith and the coaching staff randomly assign the incoming players to a team. Once a player has been named to a team, they will stay with that team for their entire career at Kansas. The teams have no rhyme or reason to who goes where, and the idea is to allow the team to get to know each other better on and off the diamond.
“The Rock Chalk teams give us another way to come together as a team,” Senior Chanin Naudin said. “We get to work with teammates that play different positions than ourselves and who we may not work with much during practices.”
Each team has their own name and traditions that have been passed down from year-to-year. The four teams include, the Phog, Wheaties, Warhawks, and Crimson Crusade. Throughout the offseason, the coaches create various team bonding activities that the teams will compete against each other for points.
This Friday, the Jayhawks will compete in the sixth annual Spooky Triathlon. Each team will dress up in unique costumes and complete a three-part course, while earning points for their respective teams. Points are awarded to the top team, as well as, the top three individual finishers and the player with the fastest time in each leg of the race.
“It’s fun to be able to compete not just on the field, but in other ways too,” Naudin said. “The coaches do a good job of bringing in different things to make sure we have fun.”
Most of the activities take place during the offseason to help keep the Jayhawks focused and motivated during practice. However, one competition that goes on throughout the season is the accumulative grade point average (GPA) of each Rock Chalk team. At the end of the academic year, the team with the best overall GPA is awarded points.
The points from every competition throughout the entire year are added up and the team with the most points at the end of the season is presented with a traveling trophy. The trophy comes with their team name engraved and bragging rights until the next winner is crowned.
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