Chemistry is the key to success in team sports

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By Benjamin Houghton
October 16, 2022

Cabrini women's soccer congratulating each other for a hard played game. Photo by Max Silverman.
Cabrini women's soccer congratulating each other for a hard played game. Photo by Max Silverman.

In the weight room, on the field, in the clubhouse, or chilling at someone’s house, chemistry can affect how a team performs. Chemistry cannot be gained easily but can be lost quickly. 

Chemistry University

Cabrini women’s soccer team having a meeting during halftime. Photo by Max Silverman.

Chemistry in college athletics is an extremely important component of any team sport. Players live, eat, train, learn, and simply hang out with each other 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The two main priorities in their life are school and their team. Sometimes those two things work together well; if a teammate needs help with schoolwork, they can often go to another player for assistance.

On some days, schoolwork might be frustrating, and taking a mental break from work to hang with your teammates at practice might help. Teammates are friends, tutors, role models, and even siblings for life. Unfortunately, every year, colleges lose players at graduation, so it is important for underclassmen to step up and continue the bond.

Dustin Malandra, Cabrini’s head strength and conditioning coach, said, “I feel like every couple of years, the leadership changes, and the energy changes with that leadership. Every couple of years you see a team needs that extra push, whereas other years’ teams just kind of have that flow.” It is all up to the returning players of a program, to keep the same energy with the freshmen and transfers. 

Malandra has been with Cabrini’s athletics program for 10 years and has been playing team sports of his own since he was eight. He has seen the chemistry and success between teams not only on the court or field but in the weight room as well. There’s a difference between a team that fools around all day long and a team that knows how to lock it in when it matters. 

Malandra said, “You don’t have to necessarily like your teammates, you just have to be cohesive on the field and court. However, if you do not like your teammates, I think it is difficult to have success in the future.”

The pandemic that changed the world

Everything changed in college sports in 2020. The only humans with whom athletes interacted were roommates, and occasionally a neighbor in a communal bathroom. Other than that, there was really no physical connection with any of the people once considered family.

Cabrini men’s soccer having a meeting at halftime. Photo by Max Silverman.

Garrett Laraia, graduate student and baseball team member, said, “It was hard with all the restrictions, especially here in the dorms, to go out and hang out with each other. I was sad because it was hard to get the freshmen involved, and felt like they were getting pushed to the side. It shows that a lot of that class transferred out because they didn’t feel a part of the Cabrini culture.” He said that before he graduates, his goal is to leave his mark and culture with the remaining team.

Laraia believes that this previous gap is no longer there. He said, “I’m friends with the freshmen, the freshmen are friends with me. The upperclassmen and lowerclassmen are all friends and tight once again.” He also mentions how he goes out of his way to make sure everyone feels involved and cared about.

The most important aspect of a successful team is this sense of team chemistry. Although most cannot see all of the behind-the-scenes of each team, every championship-winning team always comes out and talks about how amazing the locker room was.

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Benjamin Houghton

Hi, my name is Ben Houghton. I am from Avondale, Pennsylvania. I went to Avon Grove High School and graduated in 2021. Now I attend Cabrini University where I am a sophomore communications major. I play on the baseball team and am involved in the honors program. I like to talk about anything that involves sports, but I am open to learning about more subjects. I am excited (and also nervous) to start writing articles for the Loquitur. I would love to write about sports for a living, and especially about Philly sports.

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