Spartans conquer fears, gravity to build team unity
GREENSBORO, N.C. – One could see how navigating four people across a complicated course of platforms and ropes 50 feet in the air could present some unique challenges. Fear, lack of communication, differences of opinion on strategy – all of these could derail the mission. But UNCG's women's soccer team pulled it off, and became a better team in the process.
The Spartans recently spent a day at Team QUEST, a team-building activities program offered by UNCG Campus Recreation at Piney Lake. There, the team underwent a series of challenges, both mental and physical, aimed at bettering communication, leadership and problem-solving skills.
"We went over a lot of stuff, like what we wanted our team to be like during the year," senior captain Katie Evans said. "The goals we had, how we wanted to act toward each other and stuff, so that played a big part in the activities we did at the Team QUEST."
The four-time defending Southern Conference regular-season champions were given mental problems to solve, testing their ability to listen and communicate. From there, the team moved on to the physical challenges. They had to pass teammates horizontally through a rope web without touching the sides, get the entire team to the top of a 15-foot wall, and, of course, navigate the high ropes course.
"It was pretty intense," senior captain Jenn Partenheimer said. "We had teams of four and you had to make it across. It was all on wires and platforms and you had to get four people on one platform that was like 2 feet by 2 feet, which is really small up 50 feet in the air.
"We had a lot of girls who were really scared to do it but really pushed through it, and the girls who were more comfortable with it helped the girls who were, I guess, struggling and a little nervous about it. We definitely challenged each other, which was really good. That's kind of how we're hoping this season will be. We want to challenge other to be the best we can be."
Sophomore Tabitha Padgett, the reigning Southern Conference co-Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, said she thinks the day will help the team trust each other throughout the season.
"That was what we built around, was mainly trust," she said. "There's a quote, 'Trust us, trusting,' that we still use now. A lot of the things we did, we had to trust each other. So that helped us, even on the field, to trust with the information we were being given."
While she concedes the high wall was a challenge, the ropes course was one of the highlights of Padgett's day.
"It was really exciting, actually," she said. "I was like, 'Oh, no, this is fine, I'll be fine,' but once you get up there, you're like, 'Whoa.' But it was really good because you worked with your team and you didn't have another support. So you learned to be dependent on them. It was really good and really scary. It was a really good team-building experience. I'd recommend it for everyone. It was really fun."
With a pair of exhibition matches in the books already, UNCG opens regular-season play against East Carolina on Friday at 7 p.m.
Click here for a photo gallery of the women's soccer team's experience at Team QUEST.
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