Jan. 9, 2013
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.--The UAB softball team opened spring practice on Tuesday, working out at the UAB Softball Field, which will play host to 20 games throughout the 2013 slate.
"I was extremely proud of the way they came out on the first day," head coach Marla Townsend said. "They were intense throughout the entirety of the four-hour practice, and I liked the fact that they're doing the things that, maybe in the past, we had to remind them to do, like high-fives and a lot of positive feedback with each other. Considering it was the very first practice, I challenged them to be relentless. I said that if we could continue to prove every day from now until we open up in Hawaii, there's no limit as to how good the UAB family can be."
Before practice began, mental coach Brian Cain joined the team and walked the Blazers through a number of team-building exercises, including trust falls and fire eating.
"Team chemistry doesn't just happen," Cain said. "It's something that needs to be coached and needs to be developed, just like the skills it takes to play softball. What we did with the team-building program was force the players to get outside of their comfort zone and stretch their limits by putting them in situations where they're going to be uncomfortable."
"They fell off a seven-foot ladder and trusted that their teammates were going to catch them," Cain continued. "They took their head and broke a board where they wrote down the goals they wanted for the season, but in order to get to those goals, they had to go through some of the past and some of the mental bricks that they were carrying and wrote down on that board."
"We also had them eat fire, and eating fire is about as uncomfortable as you can get because all the players hadn't eaten fire before, it's unnatural," Cain continued. "Initially, you're scared. But what they find out afterwards is that, if they follow the fundamentals, they can do it. If they follow the fundamentals and commit to the process, they can break a board with their head. Their teammates will catch them falling off a ladder. When they learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, that's when growth happens."
"Growth and team is developed on the edge of discomfort," Cain added. "When people can collectively go through struggle, and when that first bead of sweat comes out on the face because they're nervous, because they're working hard, that's when team chemistry happens."
"You can talk about it in a classroom, but you don't see the results until you go out into an uncomfortable environment, whether it's a practice field or in a teambuilding setting, and get them to stretch their comfort zones and come together with a common cause of being a contributing member of this family," Cain said. "They have to be committed to excellence and being competitive, to have pride in who they are as a part of UAB softball, and to be relentless. It's important that they remember to not give in, and especially never be defeated by yourself."
UAB softball will kick off the 2013 season when it travels to Honolulu, Hawaii, for the Paradise Softball Classic Feb. 7-9.