Oct. 15, 2013
The Vanderbilt women's basketball team is accustomed to strenuous workouts, but earlier this month, the Commodores took it to a whole new level.
With the goal of building team unity - and building their resolve - the Vanderbilt players took part in a two-day workout called The ProgramTM, which included rigorous, military-style workouts on the football field and in the swimming pool.
The workouts tested the players' endurance, along with their organizational skills and their ability to follow instructions. In one drill, one group of players carried sand bags while others hoisted logs over their head.
Captains were selected from among the Vanderbilt players to lead many of the drills, and vocal encouragement was a must throughout the workouts.
"The Program was one of the most productive and beneficial experiences we have had as a team during my 11 years at Vanderbilt," said head coach Melanie Balcomb.
"Our team was put through a challenging two-day leadership and team development program that focused on attention to detail, being accountable to one another, pushing beyond our perceived physical and mental limitations, and understanding how to be better teammates and leaders. These are skills we preach daily in practice, but to be able to take the team out of their element and reinforce these things was priceless.
"What made this experience so worthwhile was that our instructors (Mac and Bruce) didn't just put us in a classroom and talk about these skills; they put our team in adverse situations, took our players out of their comfort zones, forced them to rely only on each other and helped them understand the importance of mental toughness when physical toughness is not enough."
The Program was founded in 2008 with the goal of providing professional and collegiate athletic teams with the best leadership development and team building services in the country.
The Program seeks to build better leaders and more cohesive teams, and operates with the mind-set that "Talent may win individual games, but leadership and unit cohesion enable teams to compete for championships."