Colonial Sports Network

Colonial Sports Network

Colonial Sports Network

Colonial Sports Network

Colonial Sports Network

Photo credit: Amere Keasley
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#ColonialTEAMChallenge: What Has the Softball Team Been Doing On Twitter?

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Today is the first day of practice for the softball team, but those of you who have been on Twitter in the past week or so (or X, I guess it’s called now), may have seen a few RMU Softball players come up across your timeline.

It’s not a coincidence. The team is currently competing in the #ColonialTEAMChallenge. But what exactly is that?

The Challenge started in the summer of 2019. Head coach Jexx Varner had just been promoted to full-time coach and to establish the new culture, Varner wanted to ingrain the team’s seven Core Values (Accountability, Balance, Control, Consistency, Compartmentalization, Sacrifice, Competitiveness) and three Non-Negotiables (Attitude-Gratitude, Empowerment, Be Present).

“We give them a task for each of our Values and Non-Negotiables and complete a task associated with it, Varner said. “There may be specific places they have to go or talk to different people. That’s what you’re seeing right now. They’re running all over campus, all over the city to complete these tasks and have a voice in what those things mean to us, and bring them together.”

Coach Varner says that it brings the team together because some players are not from Pittsburgh, so they can explore the city for the first time and bond with the team they have just joined simultaneously.

In addition to these tasks, there are physical tasks as well. The team also participates in a campus-wide relay race. Coach Varner, Assistant Coaches Samantha Santillo and Bonnie Pierson, and the strength team proposed doing testing for the first two weeks before their first team practice and points get awarded for how well the team finishes as well as for the top three individual performers.

“We want it to be a team-building activity of sorts as well so we all get together and share stories afterward,” Varner said. “It’s become pretty special to us and a lot of the stories of their adventures have really become last memories.”

Graduate student Avery Winchell and junior Alaina Koutsagiani have both experienced the TEAM Challenge as freshmen, now the two of them are the leaders guiding the new class into the program.

“We have gotten to hang out with [the freshman] so much already in the time they have been here,” Winchell said. “Getting to know them warms my heart coming full circle in a fifth-year role to this class, showing them what RMU Softball is all about and also what we want to do this year with our goals. It’s a really good feeling.”

“These challenges have certainly brought us together,” Koutsagiani said. “We get to know each other personally outside of our sport and then we come together and practice. I feel like that chemistry will help a lot of us in practices and games. I think we’ll work together really well because of that.”

Although the TEAM Challenge is still relatively new, it seems as if it is not going away anytime soon.

“We say it a lot in the program, ‘If you take care of those, the results on the field take care of themselves’. To be honest, I think that speaks for itself,” Varner said. “I think it has helped us evolve as a program to create a new, exciting tradition that allows us to focus on skills and strengths that are more sport-specific and emphasize things we need to do mentally and physically to be champion student-athletes. All the while, bringing the team closer together. It’s a win-win for sure!”

With the softball season still roughly five months away, it seems as if the softball team is off and running already with this challenge in both team chemistry and staying in shape.

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About the Contributor
Michael Deemer, Sports Editor
Michael Deemer is a junior News and Sports Communication major from Crofton, Maryland. He is the Sports Editor for Colonial Sports Network and is the producer for RMU-TV's Colonial Sports Center.