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signed to acclimate them broadly to their teammates’ personalities and athletic strengths, Skidmore services, and the rhythms of student life. “They are encouraged to think about personal and team goals, whether it’s to be an All American, win the league championship, or get good grades and still fit in eight hours of sleep,” Hallen- beck says. It’s not always easy: “These athletes arrive having already been successful, so they come with expectations of what they can bring to the team. Suddenly those have to change dramatically when they’re surrounded by people with the same expectations.” Christine Kemp ’11, a for- mer center-forward for Hallen- beck who is now studying to become an athletic trainer, re- calls, “When I came to Skid- more, I thought success meant


STAFFERS JULIA ROUTBORT, ROBIN ADAMS ’00, AND BETH HALLENBECK MENTOR STUDENTS FOR SUCCESS IN CLUBS, ON THE PLAYING FIELD, AND INSIDE THEIR OWN HEADS.


winning. It meant getting the best grades however you could, getting the win however you could. Over time, I realized it was so much more: understanding a concept, instead of memoriz- ing the answers; my teammates’ defensive play that got us the ball, instead of me scoring the goal. It was about team contri- bution. Everyone knew it. Everyone bought into it. And that’s why we were so successful.” Forward Kelly Blackhurst ’14 views success as “an equation that must be balanced.” She acknowledges that individuals make a difference, but emphasizes that collaborative success is “much more excit- ing.” Formerly a competitive alpine ski racer whose personal skill on the slope was “of utmost importance,” she came to realize that she enjoyed team cama- raderie even more. “Team success involves every single play- er—the injured, the ones waiting patiently on the sidelines, and those sprinting up and down the field. It’s not ‘every man for himself.’ We win together and we lose together.” Skidmore’s counseling center director, Julia Routbort, con- firms that “this generation is very group-affiliated. You can see it in the students’ e-mails—their signatures have taglines that tell what organizations they belong to.” She stresses that “it’s not the end of the individual.” But, she points out, “College kids are constantly webbed-in, on their cell phones, on e-mail. Connectedness and belonging are the air they breathe. You may read success stories of individual students, but no one goes it alone here.”


In counseling sessions, Routbort says, “students do talk


“YOU MAY READ SUCCESS STORIES OF INDIVIDUAL STUDENTS, BUT NO ONE GOES IT ALONE HERE.”


about solitary tasks and concerns, but there’s been a seismic shift toward the importance of being part of a successful group.” Of course the counseling center tends to draw students who are not feeling successful, “maybe experiencing a first heartbreak, or because of low grades, or freaking out about what’s going to happen after graduation, and these are things people go through as individuals. We help them reappraise their sense of what’s important, and that includes whether it matters what the group says.”


For many or most, it matters a lot. Hallen- beck tells of one student who yielded to the best interests of the team when it had the op- portunity to play in China. The student faced two big, personal obstacles: She was terrified of flying, and her peanut allergy made her worry that meals in China could liter- ally kill her. But her commitment to the team outweighed her fear, and she went on the trip. “The experience changed her life,” says Hallenbeck. “We watched her learn to trust—an im- portant life skill. And she chose to travel again to New Zealand the next year, which she might not have done without the suc- cessful experience she had in China.”


Adams maintains that this ability “to move outside one’s comfort zone” translates into successful careers and human con- nections later on: “Both self-confidence and the confidence oth- ers have in your performance are factors in long-term success.” In the end, Curry muses, “College success is like your own per- sonal cheerleader, I suppose. You still have to go out and play the game, but it will help you along.”


SPRING 2012 SCOPE 19


GARY GOLD


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