Going into the 2017-2018 season, the Greater Atlanta Christian (GAC) Boys Lacrosse Team was, by all standards, entering into a rebuilding year. They were a young team, with only five players who had been on the varsity roster the year before; the remaining 25 had either been on the JV roster or playing for the middle school team. Additionally, two of their starters were freshman.
Realistically, Coach Tim Ball knew he could hope for the team to make the playoffs – maybe hosting a first-round game if their season exceeded expectations. It was his twelfth season as the GAC Boys Lacrosse Team, and he knew the territory that came with those rebuilding years.
But the season would soon begin to take an unexpected turn.
It started with a recommendation from Tim’s top assistant – Scott Ratliff, who is also the Long-Stick Midfielder for the Atlanta Blaze, a professional lacrosse team. Scott shared with Tim that a team retreat had been instrumental in helping his college lacrosse team win a national championship in 2012. Tim had experienced several team camps and retreats himself as a former assistant football coach, and he knew Scott was onto something.
With the hope of uniting the team for the season ahead, Tim and Scott booked an experience with WinShape Teams.
Coming into the experience, Tim’s goal was that each of the players would come to see the sum of the team’s parts as greater than the individuals.
“I wanted to build trust among the players, as well,” he says.
As the programming continued to unfold, Tim realized he was getting even more than he bargained for – in a really good way.
“I was inspired by our players’ willingness to open up to one another and begin a belief system in the coaches, one another and in our ability to accomplish something great,” he says. “I also loved the flexibility of our WinShape Teams facilitators to work the program around what we needed, inviting and encouraging us (the coaches) to speak positively into the players’ lives.”
Following the retreat, it was time to put everything to the test – the training, the coaching and everything they had learned at WinShape Teams.
Defying initial predictions, the GAC Boys Lacrosse Team ended up finishing their season 18-4, going on to win the Area 3 championship and closing out as the state runner-up.
Tim Ball shares with confidence that WinShape Teams was one of the factors that bonded the team and allowed the players and coaches to be on the same page going into the season.
“This experience – and the season that followed – demonstrated what can happen when a group of individuals buys into the process that leads toward the goals set,” he says. “It is not the goals themselves that allow a team to accomplish great achievements, but the process that is in place to allow the team to achieve those goals. This [WinShape Teams] retreat helped set the stage for our players to buy into that process.”
With plans to take his players back to WinShape Teams for future seasons, Tim has seen the power of building a strong, healthy team on and off of the field. Because when everyone is aligned and united, that’s when odds are overcome and the unexpected is accomplished.