For many University of Indianapolis athletic teams, some players stand out from the rest of the athletes as leaders are given the opportunity to take on the role of being a team captain.
According to Head Men’s Soccer Coach John Higgins, UIndy prides itself on their leadership where coaches work harder than everybody else and the captains follow that example.
“There are a lot of expectations that we have for them. It is almost a microscope on those guys,” Higgins said. “They have to have the right behavior, attitude, body language and they have to be working harder and be seen working harder than the guys underneath them.”
Higgins said that choosing the two senior captains for his team was an easy choice. It was obvious based on their leadership skills, the amount of respect the players give them and their level of skill within their craft.
According to senior men’s soccer captain and midfielder Ben Rohder, some of the qualities that need to be seen in a captain are being a leader on and off the field and taking care of their academics in the classroom.
“I definitely love the in-game situations. I love playing the sport and have been playing it all my life,” Rohder said. “So that’s the place where I can really be the most confident and take charge the best, but being a captain you’ve got to do that on and off the field.”
Rohder said that it has been a long four year process to get to the point that he is in his soccer career. From the beginning of his freshman year, all of the former captains pushed him to get to the level he is at now.
According to Higgins, they named two official junior captains, Kyle Kamminga and Ryan Callan, to give them time to be prepared and mentored by the current senior captains. The junior captains, Higgins said, that once those seniors graduate, the junior captains are able to be promoted into the role more efficiently.
“We always have four captains, two juniors and two seniors,” Higgins said. “So, we’re never really running into a year where we’ve got a lack of leadership, which is a big issue with quite a lot of college teams.”
Higgins said that Rohder, as well as his co-captain senior forward Javier Steinwascher, give his team a good balance of highly skilled athletes and leadership personality.
“I think in Benny [Rohder] and Javi [Steinwascher] you have two very different captains. He [Rohder] really cares about his teammates, will put an arm around the guy and will have an individual conversation with one of the guys,” Higgins said. “Javi [Steinwascher] is much more authoritarian… just because of how his personality is maybe a little bit tougher. It doesn’t always work out like that, but it’s really nice that we’ve gotten that kind of balance.”
According to Higgins, the goal going into every season is to produce the best experience for the seniors and captains. Higgins said that the captains have the floor with the rest of the team to say what they want out of the season.
“The whole goal initially is to lead up to the expectations mostly all of the expectations, of the captains,” Higgins said. “If we can do that, have that sort of mentality initially, then we’re on the right track.”
Higgins said that the captains have the floor once their roles are set and there won’t be interference from the coaching staff.
Senior defensive end and captain of the football team Jacob Schmatz was voted into the role of team captain by a team wide vote, according to Schmatz. Schmatz said that he was voting alongside his teammates for people who he thought were capable of holding the captain position.
“It’s how you lead in the off season, throughout workouts, at spring ball and then obviously, the beginning of camp too,” Schmatz said. “It comes down to your teammates and who they think of as a team captain, and I’m very thankful to have been given the opportunity.”
Schmatz said he tries to keep a connection with his teammates regardless of class standing. It’s more than just on the field, but a personal connection with everyone.
A team captain does not have to be the most talented player on the field, according to Schmatz, but that it should be someone who works hard day in and day out, that is consistent with their attendance and talking on the field when a match is or is not going well.
“If I could pass something on to the guys below me, it’d be to try and be vocal,” Schmatz said. “Don’t be nervous about saying something or stepping up and holding guys accountable, that’s really good characteristic of a leader.”