Dec. 21, 2012
Auburn Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs recently organized a team-building and community service event for the Athletics Staff to participate, which entailed building 16 bikes to be distributed to a local children's mentoring organization. Below is a first-hand account from A.J. Mills, a former Auburn gymnastics student-athlete who now serves as an assistant to the Athletics Director.
By A.J. Mills
"I believe in a sound mind, a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid..." These words, spoken by George Petrie, are certainly always on the hearts and minds of our Athletics Department staff as we seek to serve our student-athletes and the Auburn community in any way that we can. With the community in mind, Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs sought to build camaraderie amongst staff through a Build-A-Bike team workshop. Staff would be creating bicycles to be donated to Project Uplift, a local children's mentoring organization.
Bright and early one Thursday morning more than 90 Auburn Athletics staff members trickled into Watson Fieldhouse for the workshop. As staff entered the fieldhouse a murmur of curiosity and anxiety filled the air. Huddled together looking at papers on the wall, (similar to call outs for a high school play) were staff members trying to find their team assignments. Excitement could be felt throughout the room as each team began to form. Sixteen total teams of Athletics staff comprised of 5-6 team members were spread out throughout the fieldhouse. No one knew exactly what to expect.
As I walked towards my team I could hear them strategizing on how we would be the most efficient in building a bike, ultimately winning any competition that they threw at us. Complete domination. A few coaches walked around from team to team, staking out the competition and talking as much smack as possible. One thing you learn working in Athletics is that each staff member has a tremendous passion for what they do. The other thing you learn is that EVERYTHING is a competition.
This occasion was no different.
After an initial communication activity, staff members were asked to stand around a rectangle of cones, each standing behind one cone. A delegate was chosen to go to the middle of the rectangle and ask a simple question, filling the end with whatever response they desired. "Have you ever BLANK." If you had, you were asked to run around all cones until you reached a new cone to stand behind (Think musical chairs with no chairs and no children). Oh, and staff members age 22-60. Needless to say, the questions asked certainly allowed us to learn about and see other sides of some of our co-workers we may not have known...I'll leave it at that.
After lots of laughs we were asked to get back into our teams, each team was told to develop a team name, a team flag and a team cheer. We were given 5 minutes, construction paper and some markers. The competition had begun. A panel of judges was assembled to assess teams on their performance.
Each team pulled out all the stops, from hilarious synchronized cheers to the "worm". You name it, our staff can do it. This team activity helped us in understanding the importance of communication and working efficiently and effectively as a group towards a goal.
The final task of the morning was to actually build the bikes. A series of riddles and questions allowed each team to get parts for a bike and ultimately assemble eight girls' bikes and eight boys' bikes.
Through the Build-A-Bike workshop we learned that the heart of our Athletics Department resonates within each and every one of us. It's the Auburn family that brings us together and allows us all to work in the capacity that we do. Though we may not all interact on a daily basis, how we approach our work and communicate with each other directly affects how our student-athletes perform. In believing George Petrie's great words in the Auburn Creed, "We believe in Auburn and Love it!."