FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 03, 2012
Actions speak louder than words for wlax captains
JU captains: From left, Jess Hotchkiss, Nikki Erdely, Rachel Hannon and Ellyn Spangenberg. Play Video
JU captains: From left, Jess Hotchkiss, Nikki Erdely, Rachel Hannon and Ellyn Spangenberg.
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The JU women’s lacrosse team has named four captains and to a person what they do is more important than the title they hold.

Senior Jessica Hotchkiss, juniors Ellyn Spangenberg and Rachel Hannon and sophomore Nikki Erdely were selected by a team and coaches vote.

“The title isn’t that important to me, but our team needs leaders,’’ Hotchkiss, a photography major from Manlius, N. Y. who is a third-year captain, said. “The team’s only as strong as the leadership. The title’s not really that important but that I have a positive influence on my teammates by setting a good example and by keeping them organized and by keeping them on top of things is important.’’

“It’s a big deal leading by example,’’ said Spangenberg, from Chuluota, Fla. “The girls look up to you that you have it all together but we’re no different on the field; we all work as hard.’’

Spangenberg also is a third-year captain and one of the organizational leaders of the group.

“We can take a little more on. I’m more the organizational one, so behind the scenes I organize a lot of things,’’ she said.

Head coach Mindy McCord agreed that while the title of captain is nice, building leadership is much more important.

“We look at captains as the liaison between the coaching staff and the team,’’ she said. “To be a leader without a title is what’s most important in developing. The captains are an important role in being able to organize the team and to be able to set an example on and off the field and help be the people who help manage the system. At the end of the day, it’s your leadership and your play and we’re looking to find players who can help us win Whether you’re a captain in title or not I think that’s what everyone should aspire to be.’’

Hannon, from Annapolis, Md., agrees.

“I think it’s important for our team to have great and fantastic leaders and it’s not so much the position,’’ she said. “It’s like the quote said: it’s not the name you get, but the action that you do. The action is more important and it’s great to be a captain.’’

The soft-spoken Erdely, from Columbus, Ga., is getting her first taste of the position and was a little surprised by the backing her teammates showed.

“It’s very exciting,’’ she said. “I was very surprised and am very fortunate to have this opportunity. It’s really important and I’m lucky to be with the three older girls and learn their ways so that when they’re gone I can carry on the legacy.’’

Captaincy is important, to the highest level of sport and being a team voted captain is important to Jacksonville Jaguars’ general manager Gene Smith, who is known for looking for that attribute in players he drafts.

“I think being a peer-elected captain says a lot about you,’’ Smith said. “Obviously, your teammates identify certain character traits in you that separate you from others. Leaders develop leaders and are willing to do what others won’t. If you have a positive influence over anyone, you’re a leader.’’

Hotchkiss agrees that being team-elected is special.

“Definitely. If your coach is just picking you it’s not as honorable as when your teammates pick you,’’ she said. “You know your teammates are going to trust your decision-making and trust you to lead them in the right direction.’’

- Jim Nasella