Boise State football players talk leadership, teamwork
By Tech. Sgt. Sarah Pokorney, 124 FW Public Affairs
/ Published March 07, 2010
GOWEN FIELD, Boise, Idaho -- Two Boise State football players spoke to the 124th Fighter Wing Student Flight about leadership, goal setting and teamwork here Saturday.
Senior Tight End Tommy Gallarda and senior Defensive End Ryan Winterswyk talked about their coaches, teammates and their own roles as leaders and team players on and off the field.
Understanding and applying leadership, goal setting and teamwork will be critical as the new recruits of the student flight begin their military careers and progress through the ranks. The players first shared their definition and debunked several myths about leadership for the student flight.
"Our definition of leadership is the skill of influencing teammates to achieve our team goals," said Gallarda. "Leadership is about choices, day by day and hour by hour making a conscious decision to do the right thing at football and in all parts of life."
One common myth about leaders is that they are born, not made. The players explained that leadership can be learned and leaders can be anyone within the team that rises to the challenge.
"Leaders will come to the top when they recognize opportunities to step up and lead," said Winterswyk.
Another myth the players tackled is that leaders have to have strong personalities and be able to get people fired up. Gallarda said that anyone can lead by example just by doing the right thing every day and even the most reserved people can motivate with just a few words at the right time.
"Our quarterback, Kellen Moore, is a reserved guy but he steps into his role and leads with his actions, and when he speaks we know it's important," said Gallarda.
"You are not going to understand the importance of leadership until you rise to the occasion; we call it 'carrying the flag,' " Gallarda said. "When Coach Pete says it's time to carry the flag it's time to step up."
At the beginning of each season the team writes down what they want to accomplish as a team. They hang these goals in the locker room as a constant reminder and talk about them every day.
"We make a goal pyramid; at the base are the team's core values like integrity and honesty and at the top is our ultimate goal which is usually to win the (Western Athletic Championship), that's our championship title," said Winterswyk. "The top of our pyramid said 'win a (Bowl Championship Series) game,' this year. We never really put that on there because it's one of those things you can't really control but we went ahead and put it on there and it ended up happening."
"Putting goals on paper and looking at them every day is just like developing muscle memory," said Winterswyk.
Each player also writes down their personal football and non-football related goals for the season and what they are going to do to obtain those goals. This is critical to the team's success because personal goals directly impact the team's overall performance.
Just as championships are won by teams, not individuals, military success is driven by successful teamwork as well.
"Teamwork is all about giving positive reinforcement, communication and building positive relationships, especially with the young team members," said Gallarda.
Winterswyk explained that often new recruits don't get welcomed by the team but the Boise State team makes it a point to make the recruits part of the team, much like an airman would do for their fellow wingman.
"It's a culture the coaches have created, we look out for each other," Gallarda said. "We take the young guys, some of them right out of high school, under our wings."
"We put all selfishness aside and take care of the team," Winterswyk said. "When we are running drills and it gets tough, it's great to have a buddy that just tackled you, pick you up. It helps us all keep a good attitude."
The Boise State team uses teambuilding exercises outside of practice like camping, rafting and barbeques to help bring the team together and open lines of communication.
Gallarda recalled a few tense moments during a rafting trip after their boat overturned, "When the team regrouped we felt like it was one of the best experiences the team had ever shared."
As the players wrapped up their visit, students had the opportunity to ask questions and shake the players' hands. It was clear that that the practices and values of this world-class football team closely resemble that of the Air Force and its world-class airman.