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Many of us recently watched the San Antonio Spurs win the NBA Championship against the Miami Heat. As I look back on that series, I am quickly reminded about how often the Spurs were praised for their team chemistry and how well the team played together. Numerous sports critics argued that the Spurs were able to win, not because they had better athletes, but because their athletes worked better together as a team.  How does this happen? All great teams, coaches, and players will tell you that building a successful team doesn’t just happen on the playing surface, but from forming team chemistry off the playing surface. To build a winning team, you need to foster strong team chemistry in the locker room, in the weight room, in the community, in the offseason, and in the athletes’ personal lives.

Just recently, Foundation staff, board members, and I decided it was important for us to begin cultivating team chemistry amongst our students involved in the 2014-15 Student Service Program. We gathered all the students together for the first time since our kickoff meeting and traveled two hours outside of Tampa to spend the day developing our team chemistry. At the beginning of the day, no one knew each other and none of us connected or were engaged with one another. To put it simply: we were all strangers. However, by the end of the day, everything had changed.

It was wonderful to watch a group of strangers from all walks of life climb rock walls, fly on zip lines, play ice breaker games, and work together through it all. The students were supporting and cheering one another on throughout the day.  We were faced with uncomfortable elements around us, including getting bit by mosquitos, getting rained on, getting sunburned, walking in mud, having to speak in front of strangers, and solving problems to name a few. Yet, despite these elements, we found comfort in knowing that the experience would transform us from strangers to friends. We created a bond that has laid a solid foundation for all of our students to strengthen throughout the course of this two-year program. After spending the day with our students, I am so excited about this group of young bright minds and look forward to the positive impact they will make in the lives of others through the Power of Giving.