THE ARMY CREW TEAM
Dwight M. Brewington
Fayetteville State University
October 23, 2011
Dr. Kathleen Gurley
The case is centered on events of the Army crew team’s annual crew season in May 2002, four days before The Nationals, a 2000 meter race where crew teams row for the best time in an intercollegiate competition. The varsity team has been consistently beaten by the junior varsity team, even though, the eight Varsity rowers are supposed to be the top eight performers of the team and the Junior Varsity is comprised of the bottom eight performers. Coach Preczewski’s dilemma forces him to a decision point where he has to decide between three options which are: 1.Switch Varsity and Junior Varsity boats.
2.Switch individual boat members.
3.Intervene to improve the Varsity boat’s performance.
THE ARMY CREW TEAM
The Army Crew Team case study introduces The Army Crew Team in rowing from The United States Military Academy at West Point and their nine year coach Colonel Stas Preczewski. Coach P and the Army Crew Team find themselves at an impasse late in the 2001-2002 season where the Junior Varsity crew team is has been outperforming the Varsity crew team all year long causing the Varsity team to appear to fall apart four days before The Nationals instead of working toward becoming a more cohesive team unit.
1.Why does the Varsity team lose to the JV team? Look for the root causes below the surface dynamics. Surface dynamics are the finger pointing and dislike team members have for each other. Why is this occurring? One of the root causes why the Varsity team loses to the JV team are the absence of leaders and the presence of team disrupters. From the case study, crew team members were rated subjectively in a matrix of strengths and weaknesses on various dimensions where the complement to leader was follower as team builder was the complement to team disruptor. In a sport where team synergy is paramount just the presence of team disruptors alone is reason enough for the varsity crew team to experience a situation where “the whole is less than the sum of the parts”. (Snook, 2004) The absence of a leader on the Varsity team created more of a collective of individuals following their own lead rather than followers united behind a leader that continually communicates the shared vision. This evidence can be supported by the fact seen in the consistency of the slogan by the JV crew team and the variations of the slogans by the varsity where the JV team was always on the same page and the Varsity seemed to be all over the place. It is also my opinion that Coach P makes team coaching decisions based too much on objective data and is not giving results of subjective data the enough merit. Another root cause can be attributed to the loss of trust among the Varsity crew team after the first loss to the JV team. The placement of crew members in the top eight sets the expectation that the top eight logically should outperform the bottom eight, so, when this expectation is not met, members are more likely to mistrust each other and in turn doubt and animosity feed negative energy into the team environment. The Varsity team probably felt that the losses were due to certain individual “weak links” (Snook, 2004) that did not belong on the top tier while the JV coming out victorious wanted no part of the rejects form the Varsity team which ramped up the competitive environment even more. Also the communication failures between the coach and the Varsity team and among the Varsity team members themselves seemed not to be recognized as being a problem when indeed it was a major problem. For instance, the case described how Coach P championed the idea of rowing with their eyes closed so they could reach “a rower’s paradise” (Snook, 2004), however through feedback communication channels the Varsity team members vented frustration about...