As his senior year quickly approaches, junior Cole Coughlin has plenty to look forward to. Between his participation in various extracurriculars and his dedication to each one, there are many opportunities for him to step up into new leadership roles. Regardless of what titles he holds or whether he is a captain or not, Cole is well-equipped to be a leader with personal experiences and his core values.
“I think leadership is more about relationships with other people,” Cole said. “You want to be someone they respect but also someone who is on the same plane as them. You don’t want to put yourself on a different level from them, and [you shouldn’t] because you’re on the same team. You want to be a role model but also a friend for your [teammates].”
Over the years, he found that this knowledge is applicable to his own sports: baseball and cross country. In fact, baseball has shown him the importance of putting the team first.
“My outlook about baseball has changed a lot,” Cole said. “Before [freshman year], I just thought of it as something where you just play your own game. As I get older, the more I realize how much of a team sport it is. You’re playing your own game, but you’ve also got to be cognizant of what everyone else is doing, what they’re going to do, and where you need to be. That has become more prevalent to me as I’ve gotten older.”
Through time and experience, Cole has learned a lot about himself and baseball as well. His many years of baseball have culminated in a few components are essential to having a strong, successful team.
“Number one [for having a successful team is] team chemistry,” Cole said. “It really helps if the guys are playing with each other and if they know each other’s personalities [so they can be more cohesive together]. Number two, frankly, talent is important. You either have it or you don’t. The third thing is [focusing] on the little things. It’s kind of a cliche, like ‘Oh the little things matter’ but it’s true. One or two plays could make all the difference in the game between if you win or lose.”
While participating in sports has given Cole plenty of insight, it also goes hand-in-hand with having general leadership skills. Although he only holds aa few official leadership titles, he is making a conscious effort to be a role model for underclassmen and his peers.
“I’m excited to be a leader [next year],” Cole said. “You can still be a leader at your respective level, but really, seniors are the top dogs. With cross country, I hope that everyone can look up to me now as a leader, which is something that I’m looking forward to. I’m a self-appointed JV cross country captain, which I guess will mean that I’ll lead the JV team and do all that.”
If anything, his high school career has shown him the importance of hard work and time management, especially with balancing two sports, school work, and friendships. His experiences have prepared him immensely for the future.
“I’ve realized that you really only have twenty-four hours in a day, meaning you have to juggle your time [as best you can],” Cole said. “You have to realize that if you want to be good at something, you actually have to put a lot of time into it. You can’t just ride your talent to success. It always comes down to how hard you work for something.”
In addition to budgeting enough time for his own programs, spending time with family is also something that Cole must make time for because through it all, they are the ones who have been there to encourage him.
“Family is basically a support system,” Cole said. “I’m at school and then sports, and coming home at 6:30 PM, my family is [there for me]. It always makes me happy when my family is at my games supporting me and all that. Family is that foundation you need for life.”
The other foundation of Cole’s life is his friend group. Both new and old friendships have helped to develop his sense of self and personality over the years, while also supporting him in all other aspects.
“When you see certain friends during the day, it makes everything feel a lot better,” Cole said. “Having a strong group of friends makes all the difference. I just like to have a lot of friends, but having so many made a lot of weak links. I’ve tried to put aside more time for certain people, and it really just makes better friendships.”
Everything Cole is involved in has shown him what true leadership means. In the upcoming year, he hopes that his leadership will strongly stem from those learned values. With excitement and passion for all that he does, his senior year is shaping up to become an influential year, both for Cole and those around him.
“A true leader leads by example,” Cole said. “They obviously have a lot going for themselves, but they must be able to take what they’ve learned, transform it, and use it to help others around them. It’s just a combination of having skills, relationships, and having the abilities to help other people grow.”