A few years ago, I had the opportunity to be an assistant coach for a high school girl's swimming team.  The talent on the team was impressive.  Many swimmers had a chance at going to the State tournament...and they knew it. 

There were three seniors on the team.  All three were elected as the captains of the team.  All three were among the top swimmers on a team that had not one stand-out, but many. 

As we got to the midpoint of the season and the swimmers had several blow-out meets under their belts, their confidence began to manifest itself during practice in a not so positive way.  Girls began to show up late for practice.  During timed sets, sidebar conversations would cause swimmers to miss their splits and delay their whole lane.  When the head coach was giving instruction, girls would giggle and horse around. 

The coach would yell, and the behavior would subside until the next practice when it would start all over again.  

Instead of embracing their roles as the leaders of the team, the captains were complicit in this behavior.  They themselves were late to practice.  They too would horse around and talk when the coach was giving instruction.  As team members their behavior showed a lack of respect and personal responsibility.  But as captains, their behavior showed a fundamental lack of leadership.  What were they missing?  Their competence as swimmers was undeniable.  In terms of swimming abilities they led the team, but although they were captains in name, they were not leaders of that team. 

In 2007, West Point began awarding the Coach K Teaching Character Through Sports Award to cadet athletes and coaches.  The award's namesake is Coach Mike Krzyzewski, West Point class of 1969 and Duke University head basketball coach.  Click on this link to read the qualities that an athlete recipient of the Coach K award must display.  There are qualities of Respect, Integrity, Sportsmanship, Responsibility, and Servant Leadership.  Which qualities did these girls lack?  Coach K Award Description