Oh Captain my Captain
by Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor Photos: Geoff Schneider/Sports Union (@GMSPhotoWNY) There is always an excitement when being named a captain of a team. It doesn’t matter at what level, or age, there is always something about wearing the “C” on your chest or around your arm. It is a sense of joy, excitement and pride. When you get named a captain in high school things could become a little different. Here you are a leader among your peers. In most instances you are leader a group that is the same age as you, even a little bit older. It could make for some awkward times if you don’t go about it the right way. Sacred Heart Academy junior Greta Bair has been waiting for the opportunity to help lead this team ever since she walked on campus three years ago. The junior took on a bigger role during the summer captain practices and everything fell into place from there. “From the start of pre-season, I was looking forward to taking on this role. It was my third year on the team and I felt prepared to step in as a captain. During the pre-season captains’ practices, I really enjoyed putting together the practice plans for the team,” stated Bair. “Those early days really brought our team together, with fun drills and team building exercises, and I absolutely loved the chance to play soccer with my team and all the new players. This summer, many girls came to almost every practice, and it was great to become close with everyone, including the new freshman girls. I think my teammates could see how passionate and excited I was for the season, and this sort of set a tone of positivity for all of us. Although we knew a tough season was ahead, we still managed to have a positive, enriching team environment going into the season.” Entering her new role, Bair wanted to make sure she stayed the same person on and off the pitch, She never wanted to change who she was as a person, or a player. The team knew what kind of person they were getting in Bair when she was named one of the captains.
They knew she would be the type of player that was going to lead by example. She wasn’t going to get down after tough loss. She wanted going to be the type of player that was going to get in your face and scream at you. That’s just not how she is. “I really just stayed true to myself. I absolutely love soccer, so it comes easy to me to play hard and give it my all. I think that our pre-season team building over the summer really made a difference during the tough times of the season. We had created strong bonds as teammates and, when it came time to help lead the team through some tough losses, it came naturally to me to see the bright side and offer encouragement and support to my teammates,” stated Bair. “I believe one of the most important qualities of a captain is to be a role model on and off the field;to always be hardworking, encouraging, and inclusive. It can be challenging during an uphill season to stay positive all the time but I think we did a nice job of showing good sportsmanship and respect to our opponents, teammates, and officials. I think that as a captain, if I’m putting in 110 percent effort and staying positive during the tough times, my teammates will choose to do the same.” Bair’s leadership skills have definitely been put to the test this year with the Sharks being such a young team. They have endured their fare share of ups and downs through the season. This team has had to deal with injuries on top of learning how to win. It hasn’t come easy - and there have been time that it has been a learning process. Through all the winning and losing, Bair has made sure the team has stayed positive. It’s easy to be positive in a win, it’s how they handles the losses. That’s what shows the growth of a team. “It’s obviously been tough being a young team, and it's hard to stay positive when we don’t win many games. But, I think we find out a lot about ourselves when things don’t go our way,” stated Bair. “Throughout the season we’ve tried to have fun and enjoy the games whether we win or lose, and to learn from each game. I try to give reassurances, be positive, and continue to build confidence with our team and especially the younger players. Giving encouragement to my teammates is so important when it comes to building trust in one another. Coming off a All-Catholic selection last season, expectations where high for Bair coming into this year. The weight of those expectations could crush a high school player. That didn’t happen to Bair. She backed her solid sophomore campaign with an even better junior year as one again she was named a first team All-Catholic in the A Division. “I did feel this extra weight from making the All-Catholics team last year, but it was also a reflection on our entire team and how we improved through the year. The recognition really motivated me to help the team and the newer players heading into the next season, and to keep working hard and trying to continue improving as a player,” stated Bair. “The way I look at things is it is all about the team, and my best and most positive contributions are helping the other players, building their confidence and staying positive. Those are things I am very comfortable with.” Bair has had no choice but to step up her game this season. With senior captain Cidnee Frymire going down during the Tonawanda tournament, Bair was looked upon to carry the load even more.
She also had to do it against some of the best players in Western New York. The Monsignor Martin boast some of the best girls soccer players in the area, and Bair has been up against the best every game. There is no let off with the competition. Games against Nardin, Nichols, St. Mary’s and even Mount Mercy have been intense because of the competition on the pitch. This has only field Bair’s desire to be the best soccer player she can be. “One unexpected outcome and challenge of Cidnee’s injury was that Coach moved me to forward to help with scoring (from midfield). I play forward in travel soccer and had played this position in my freshman year at SHA, so I was comfortable with the transition, but it wasn’t what I was expecting for this season,” stated Bair. “I love playing against the best players. As it turns out, some of the greatest soccer players in WNY and nationally are in our league and I really enjoy competing against them on a regular basis. I’ve always looked up to the older players and watching them play has taught me so much about the game. Playing against so many talented players has helped me raise my game and motivates me every day to work hard and improve my own skills and abilities.” That motivation will lead Bair to skip the basketball season this winter. Bair has been a fixture on the basketball team over the past couple of years, but this year she will concentrate on soccer full time. Bair wants to see where this off season will take her. She will continue to workout and play for the Western New York Flash, her club team. Working on her game is important as she looks to take it to the next level. While soccer is important, so is her academics. She has enrolled in a very tough program at Sacred Heart, which will prepare her for college. “I am going to focus on academics and work as hard as possible on soccer. For my academics, I’m enrolled in the IB program at Sacred Heart which is a really challenging program and great preparation for college,” stated Bair. “As for soccer, I have decided to take a break from basketball this winter to work on soccer full time and I’m excited about the upcoming Flash season. At the end of the day, I know that I will do everything in my power to become the best soccer player I can be.”