If you’ve been to the first week of chapel at Harding, you’ve heard the famous talk from Dr. McLarty and Dr. Burks over camaraderie. If you haven’t had that honor, camaraderie can be defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together.”
Sports teams are arguably the best place to find camaraderie. Between long rides to away games, 3 hour practices and early morning practices, athletes end up spending a significant portion of their free time with their fellow teammates.
Having such a strong sense of loyalty to your team means you make sacrifices for them that you might not make for anyone else.
One instance when camaraderie is at its highest is when going up against a rival school. I remember last year when Harding tennis played Delta State University. Delta State is not in our conference, but they always pose good competition in tennis.
It was a doubles match and a Delta State player thought a Harding player had made a bad line call. The Delta State players then proceeded to argue with our players until one jumped over the net and almost punched the other Harding player.
Coaches had to intervene, and Harding ended up winning the match.
Tennis is especially challenging in the fact that we often don’t have referees or line judges to make calls for us. There are often disputes and arguments. We also have to keep track of the score without any help.
Sure, you can’t have true camaraderie with other teams, but we can be civil and respect them even when things get challenging or heated. It is definitely more challenging in individual sports such as tennis or golf where you’re used to operating on your own.
The atmosphere changes quickly when you have to play a rival like Arkansas Tech. It’s difficult to show respect or kindness to someone who doesn’t reciprocate it, but as Christians, that’s what we are called to do.
In the heat of the moment it’s easy to say things you don’t mean, and it’s even easier to make a questionable call. In my time at Harding, I’m proud to say that rarely happens. I’ve seen our athletes often be the bigger people.
Two teams at Harding have really stuck out to me as having the strongest embodiment of camaraderie: softball and women’s basketball. They make an effort to do things outside of practice together. They often choose to live together and really embody being a second family.
The closeness of both teams also shows in their play and past seasons’ results. Softball made it to regionals last year and women’s basketball made it to the Final Four, the first time in school history.
Next time you hear the word camaraderie, think of Harding sports. Not only is it a big part of Harding, but camaraderie is a significant aspect of our athletics.