Donna Papa
Softball Blog: Team Bonding Trip
Release: 10/09/2012

The North Carolina softball team recently took a team bonding trip to Wrightsville Beach, N.C. Below is senior Paige Williams' blog of the Tar Heels' weekend of bonding. 

Team Bonding, Part I:

by senior Paige Williams

"TISHA! Get up!"

"What time is it?"

"6:45 a.m. We need to leave NOW!"


And it had begun. Tisha, Haleigh and I left the apartment to embark on the annual softball team bonding trip. Except as seniors, this time would be our last time.

We stopped by Koury dorm to pile freshmen Erin and Lauren F, with their luggage in tow, into the Lincoln and then drove to the field.

It was 7:15 in the morning. In the team room, we groggily piled an assortment of cream cheese flavors onto our Bruegger's bagels that Coach P provided and patiently waited for the rest of our team to arrive. With everyone seated in the team room, Coach P had each of us draw a number-1, 2 or 3-from a brown paper bag which designated which van we would be riding.

"You can't switch numbers!" Coach Boo warned-she knows us too well.

Finally, each of us had to grab a ticket before we could depart. The ticket idea was straight from the book The Energy Bus that Coach P made us read before this weekend. The 10 rules listed in the book are going to be discussed during the next two days and we will use these themes going forward through the fall.

I climbed into van number 2 along with Cameron, Jordan, Lori, Megan, Kiwi, Amy, Stephanie and Amber. Right before we left, Coach Tony walked to each van collecting cell phones since we are never permitted to have them during bonding weekend. We still didn't know where we would be bonding this time but as soon as Coach Boo turned onto I40 East, it was apparent that we were headed back towards the coast.

Two hours later, I saw the signs for Wilmington, which is 1 hour and 45 minutes south of my hometown of Newport, NC. I'm pretty familiar with the area and instantly recognized the bridge we took before driving onto Wrightsville Beach. This year would be slightly different from years past for several reasons. First of all, we got wind that all 30 of us (staff included) would be staying in one house as opposed to two separate houses. This should be interesting!  In addition, our team worked with Jeff Janssen last year in separate workshops throughout the fall to develop team cohesiveness and leadership. This year, he is staying with us and leading the activities during our bonding weekend.

It was 11 a.m. when all three vans pulled into the driveway of a huge yellow rental house on the waterfront. Coach P instructed us all to walk down to the beach since we couldn't check into the rental house for a few more hours. We wasted no time diving into our activities! Before we could start anything, I gathered my fellow Rams-Amy, Haleigh, Lauren W, Erin and Tracy-and passed out the sparkly "Rams" headbands we made. Yes, we're that team. The others looked on in disgust but we thrive on the attention anyway.

On the beach were two yellow ropes lying on either side of a narrow obstacle course about 20 feet long. In between the ropes were patterns of small red cones. Most of us knew that this was called the "Mine Field" from similar competitions through the Carolina Leadership Academy. One person stands on the outside of the yellow lines giving instructions to their blind-folded partner on the inside to try and weave him or her through the course without stepping on any of the cones. If the person steps on a cone or the yellow lines then they have to return to the beginning. Jeff added a twist to the game giving us an option of getting 11 different people through the course in 11 minutes or getting 12 different people through the course in 12 minutes.

"12 PEOPLE IN 12 MINUTES!" Constance shouted.

That was quickly decided. The girls partnered up with people that they thought would lead them successfully through the course and we were off. I put the blindfold on and let Haleigh give me directions. We have been best friends since late freshman year and I knew we would be able to effectively communicate to get the job done. Others were not as successful and it took us a total of four times to get everyone through the course. It was difficult to make the time requirements and it took some additional adjustments along the way which we discussed after we completed our goal. Some girls figured out that they needed to switch who lead and who instructed and others learned how to make their direction more concise.

I was proud of our perseverance because we never resorted to the 11 people in 11 minutes even after falling short of our initial goal the first few times.  If you're doing the math here, you know that we spent at least a good 48 minutes on this first activity. We had a little time left before check-in so we split into our TPS teams and took time to talk with everyone about personality traits, behaviors and goals for the season. It was nice to get to know our freshman better and form better bonds with the both of them.

Oh! I forgot to mention the tires! Before the first competition, each TPS team was given a "negativity" tire. A harness is buckled around the person's waist and is attached to a rope that is tied to the tire. This represents negativity and how it can create a burden for everyone involved.  During the day, one team member has to have the tire attached to them at all times. This looked really cute as I passed an attractive beach attendant with a large tire around my waste on the way back to the rental house.

The Swoosh was the team assigned to the first meal so they headed inside to prepare the sandwiches for lunch. We got a little 2-hour break before we went back outside to engage in the second activity of the day. This time we stayed on the lawn area just before the beach so we could work on a harder surface.

You wouldn't believe what was displayed on the lawn! A mock spider web (roughly 8 feet by 8 feet) was made from intertwined bungee cords supported by two metal poles on each side. The bungee cords made 18 different sized openings in the structure and a nasty, fake spider was perched at the top. We all wondered what we could possibly be doing with the contraption in front of us.

Believe it or not, Jeff told us we would be passing 18 different teammates through each of the openings in the web! The catch was that if the person being passed through the small opening touched the bungee cords or if any of the passers touched the bungee cords, the person would have to be transferred over again. We only had a certain amount of touches before we had to start over and with each touch, a penalty was given. For example, someone on the team would be blind folded or someone would have to remain mute for the duration of the exercise.

In the beginning, we decided the six biggest girls that would not be transferred and the other 18 who would. The girls that weren't being put through the web stood on either side to help get the other girls through the holes. Constance and I stood on the starting side with Kati and Sara and handed the girls through the cords to Haleigh and a few others on the opposite side. Initially, we tried to shoot for 5 touches but soon found out that our goal was slightly ambitious and created a lot of pressure once we had reached 3 touches. Our strong momentum began to titter out as we made our 5th and 6th attempts. Ashley came up with the idea to label the different openings to keep track of which girl would be transferred through which hole, according to their size and the size of the space. At one point we had gotten 17 girls through the web and the 18th girl touched the bungee cord for the 5th time causing us to start all over again.

 Thankfully, after that attempt and numerous strenuous lifts, Tisha noticed some of the lifters fatigue and called for a much needed time out. Most of us looked like we had been through battle at this point. I will admit that I am one of the significant "sweaters" on the team and Constance and I were doing A LOT of lifting so of course my shirt was soaked. In addition, some of us were trying to balance and steady some of the girls, who were lifted in the higher slots, with our heads so our hair looked like we'd briefly sat in an electric chair. At one point, we were trying to transfer freshman Elaina through one of the smallest openings which was near the top of the 8 foot structure and my arms were violently shaking trying to make sure she didn't hit a cord.

Once we took the time to clarify our strategy, we made our last few attempts and FINALLY transported all 18 girls from one side to the other with only three touches! SUCCESS! I'm sure Coach Boo got some beautiful pictures of that little adventure. Although both challenges were more difficult than ones we'd previously participated in during bonding weekend, we really united as a team and at the completion of each task, we felt great-tired, but successful nonetheless! 

Stay tuned to for more photos and the second part of the UNC Softball Blog: Team Bonding.

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