Tal­ent isn’t ev­ery­thing

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cbn­com­pass.ca

You want a feel good sports story head­ing into the hol­i­day sea­son? You should turn your at­ten­tion to Jens Haven Me­mo­rial School and its male vol­ley­ball team.

The Nain-based team re­cently trav­elled to the AAA provin­cial tour­na­ment in Spring­dale and came home with a provin­cial ti­tle.

The team has a to­tal of nine ath­letes and bested schools with twice their school’s pop­u­la­tion in some cases. It’s an in­cred­i­ble feat for a school that isn’t gen­er­ally looked upon as an ath­letic pow­er­house across the is­land part of the prov­ince.

In the Big Land, how­ever, it’s a dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion al­to­gether. My brother spent a year in Rigolet teach­ing and he’s spun many a yarn about the im­pres­sive ath­letic ex­ploits of the peo­ple who live there.

There were sto­ries about a young woman who could eas­ily make some noise at that na­tional level in archery and other such tales.

Whether we like it or not, Labrador schools are not gen­er­ally con­sid­ered threats on the provin­cial stage when com­pet­ing against teams from the is­land. I’ve been guilty of this a couple of times my­self. I ate my words a couple of years ago when a team I was coach­ing got beat by Meni­hek High from Happy Val­ley-Gosse Bay.

Labrador isn’t ex­actly viewed as a haven for ath­letic ex­cel­lence, even though they’ve pro­duced their fare share of great play­ers in all sports.

Un­for­tu­nately, that’s the way it is up un­til now.

This changes now with Jens Haven Me­mo­rial School’s re­cent suc­cess, as it should. This is sure to open some eyes and heighten the opin­ion of teams from up that way.

They’re pro­duc­ing some teams, man.

While it should change the con­ver­sa­tion, it also be­comes a shin­ning ex­am­ple of an­other as­pect of sports that some­times gets for­got­ten.

When you play as a team and throw in a lit­tle bit of tal­ent, you can over­come those teams that rely on tal­ent alone.

Some peo­ple tend to place too much faith in hav­ing a team laden with tal­ent and oth­er­worldly ath­letes. Too of­ten they forget that you need to be able to play as a team

Just think of the San An­to­nio Spurs. For a long time, they’ve never been viewed as a shin­ning ex­am­ple of an ath­let­i­cally gifted team, but they play the right way and as a team.

While I’m not sure, I can prob­a­bly guess that the team in Nain is close. They prob­a­bly spend their days hang­ing out with each other and have been play­ing to­gether for­ever.

They’re com­fort­able with each other on the court, and I’d imag­ine they understand about play­ing as a team. They no doubt understand that what makes a team great is be­ing ready to give up your own goals for those of the guys play­ing next to you.

That’s really the key to the whole thing. Be­ing able to set aside your per­sonal goals for the bet­ter­ment of the other 10-11 guys on your squad.

Be­ing a team and play­ing as a team is about sac­ri­fice. Sac­ri­fic­ing that good shot, be­cause your team­mate has a bet­ter one. It’s about sac­ri­fic­ing the prop­ping up of your ego be­cause you’re not above the team.

Su­per tal­ented play­ers can win. They can push their teams over the top, but it of­ten comes down to how the team plays that de­ter­mines which can get a cham­pi­onship.

A strong team trumps a team with tal­ent. Re­mem­ber that.

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