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Michelle Casey

Self-Design Honors Experience Proposal


6/30/14
Coaching Junior Team USA

Abstract
For this self-design honors experience, I plan to help coach and manage Team USA in the
Junior Worlds Underwater Hockey Tournament this coming August. The tournament will take
place August 20
th
to August 23
rd
at the Newport International Sports Village in Wales. My
responsibilities will include assisting with tryouts, playing with the team to offer a challenge,
organizing equipment, helping to schedule extra practices, and assisting with travel and making
sure the team gets where they need to be in a timely fashion.
My original intention with this tournament was to try out and become a participant
myself, but I am unfortunately a few months over the age limit. I decided to do my part with the
tournament by volunteering to coach and manage Team USA. I am actually grateful that I am
too old for the tournament because it provides an opportunity for me to enhance my leadership
skills and to bridge the gap from being an underwater hockey student to being in a leadership
role. My primary goal for this tournament is to become a better leader and to take the skills that
I learn in Wales back to my classes in Cincinnati and to wherever I find my first professional job
after graduation. Another of my goals is to improve my communication because I will be
communicating in several different ways on this tournament. I will be a colleague of my fellow
coaches and managers and will have to communicate with them in that manner. I will be an
older sister figure to the few girls who will be on the team, and I will have to learn how to
communicate with them to keep them feeling positive about their particular role on the team. I
will have played on past teams with several of the members of Team USA, so to them I will be a
fellow teammate, just not participating. I will be more of a mentor. I hope this experience will
broaden my communication skills so I can speak with many different groups of people
effectively. My final goal for this experience is to learn more organizational skills. I have
learned that the best way to go about work is in an organized manner, so I hope that in such a
high-pressure setting such as Junior Worlds I can learn how to be efficient with our time and to
perform tasks that need to be performed beyond the standard that is expected of me. With these
three goals accomplished, I hope to come out of this experience a more enlightened person who
is better with handling the struggles of everyday life.
Due to the tournament being in August, I have a very rough estimate of how much time
this tournament will take. Assuming tryouts will be the beginning of May, the total amount of
time I will take on this experience will be about 174 hours. This includes fourteen hours for
tryouts, 75 hours of practice, 30 hours for the tournament, and 55 hours outside of the
tournament during waking hours in Wales.
Connection to Learning Outcomes within an Honors Thematic Area
This experience will fulfill the Leadership thematic area. I plan to meet three specific
learning outcomes in this area:
1. Possesses knowledge of various leadership theories and identifies with the characteristics
of leadership

For this learning outcome, I will focus on what it truly means to be a leader and what
characteristics a leader requires. I will be fulfilling this by maintaining my composure
during hectic events that are sure to come about while travelling abroad; these can
include anything from trying to keep people calm while trying to claim luggage,
establishing communication methods since many people will not want to use overseas
data while in Wales, and making sure everyone stays as a group and no one wanders off
alone.

2. Identifies the various characteristics of a leader in a given situation/role
For this learning outcome, I will focus on maintaining a mature demeanor throughout the
process of preparing for and participating in this tournament. I will keep jokes to myself
when I need to be a supportive colleague for my fellow coaches and managers, be
constantly willing to help when help is needed, and relate to any of the teammates and
talk them through whatever is troubling them during this high-pressure time. Many of
the players will probably feel that their skills are inferior to those required for the task, so
to help them overcome this obstacle I will work with each of them on whatever they are
struggling with the most to help them overcome this mental obstacle. If I find that some
players are skimping on their training because they feel they are already satisfactorily
prepared for this tournament, I will remind them that underwater hockey is much more
popular in Europe and therefore the competitors overseas will be much more difficult to
face. I will make sure each player is keeping up with his or her training regimen.
3. Has the ability to relate, communicate and work effectively with peers

I will be focusing on my communication goal for this learning outcome. Although I am
closer in age to the players than to the other coaches and managers, they will be my peers
as opposed to the players. I will need to make my voice heard in situations such as
discussing strategy with the team. If I feel that my opinion is valuable, I will speak up
during coach and manager meetings. I will also need to learn when to not speak and
simply take orders, such as when spontaneous events like a player being injured to the
point of needing to go to the hospital take place.

Connection to Goals and Academic Theories

This project is not very academic, but I will be able to use the communication skills I
learned and apply them to my classroom discussions. I hope to become more assertive in the
classroom and learn how to pick out details that may be more important than others. For my
professional life, I hope I can gain valuable leadership skills that can allow me to advance
quickly to higher positions in the workforce. I hope to become more assertive in my personal
life as well and be more willing and capable of taking on leadership roles. I also hope this
project will help me to realize that failing does not end my success; all I need to do is learn from
it and move on to continue becoming successful.
In the Intro to Psychology course I took last fall semester, we focused on studying
leadership and what makes good leaders. In Professor Charles Ginns adaptation of Introduction
to Psychology, he explains that there are multiple theories on leadership and a few different types
of leaders. One theory is the trait theory of leadership, which states that great leaders tend to
possess similar traits. Successful leaders tend to be intelligent, possess excellent social skills,
and, above all, are charismatic. According to Professor Ginn, Charismatic leaders are leaders
who are enthusiastic, committed, and self-confident; who tend to talk about the importance of
group goals at a broad level; and who make personal sacrifices for the group. (Ginn, 338). I am
going to take all three of these aspects of a charismatic leader to heart as I coach and manage the
team. I am very enthusiastic about this team; not only because we are representing this country,
but because this group of students is one of the best I have ever had the privilege of working
with, so I am very excited about being able to help them grow both as individual players and as a
team. During this experience I also hope to grow closer to each of the players. I am very
committed to this team; underwater hockey has changed me into a more competitive, outgoing
person, so I am determined to keep my dedication to it by helping this team as much as possible.
Whenever the head coach needs me to help out with an extra project such as organizing
equipment, I will be more than happy to do so. If a player wants me to work with them on
technique more closely, I will do it without a problem. The one trait mentioned in Professor
Ginns definition of a charismatic leader which I will need to improve is self-confidence. I have
never been the most self-confident person, and being in charge of ten teens, working with people
much older than me, and doing all of this in an unfamiliar country will definitely test the limits
of my self-confidence. I am looking forward to this challenge and hoping that I will succeed.
The group goals for this trip are simple: stay safe, play well, and above all, have fun! This is the
trip and opportunity of a lifetime that many of these players will never experience again, so I
hope that they can live it up as much as they can. One goal I do not personally have for the team
is to win as many games as possible; in underwater hockey, the main goal is improving your self-
performance in tournaments. Therefore, I will constantly be reminding the players to focus on
teamwork and self-performance instead of scoring goals. Finally, I plan to make many personal
sacrifices for this group. I will be sacrificing my time, energy, and finances to this group. I will
sacrifice even more if I have to in order to ensure the success of this trip. Ultimately, my goal is
to be an extremely charismatic leader that the players can turn to on this trip.
Stangor, Charles, and Charles Ginn. Introduction to Psychology. 2013. Irvington, NY: Flat World Knowledge, Inc., 2013. N. pag.
Print.

Initiative:

An important part of underwater hockey is puck handling; how skilled can one be with
their hockey stick? To increase mobility in the stick-holding wrist, we usually practice dry-land
puck work for several minutes a day so that we can take these skills to water and outwit our
opponents. For this tournament, I will create a list of puck-handling skills that can be practiced
anywhere for several minutes a day. They will range from very simple, such as pushing the puck
back and forth, to very complicated, such as practicing on-land barrel rolls. Having these skills
should give the team members significant advantage in the water. This will be a very simple
PDF file that will have various levels of difficulty for each technique. For example, easy skills
will be ping pong, tick tack, triangle, moderately easy skills will be figure eight, V, figure
six and very difficult will be Ethiopian, Joe Gering move, barrel roll. (If you are very
confused by now about what all of these words mean, dont worry; the players know what they
are). The players can practice one or multiple skills from each difficulty level for ten minutes a
day, which will greatly improve their puck handling skills.

Reflection:

For my reflection, I will keep a journal asking myself about my leadership skills after
every time I work with the team members or the other managers and coaches. I will ask myself a
series of questions based on the theories of learning on which I will be focusing:
What traits did I express the most today? Were they constructive or destructive to
improving my leadership? How were they constructive/destructive?
Was I a charismatic leader today? How was I not a charismatic leader? How can I
improve my charisma?
How did I communicate with people today? Was I influential?
Hopefully the answers to these questions will reveal what I am doing well as a leader
and what I need to work on.
Dissemination:
I will be sharing this proposal with my honors advisor and professor, so it will be posted
on my learning portfolio. This audience is relevant due to the fact that they are the ones who will
be critiquing/grading it. I hope that my reflection questions will reveal what I am focusing on in
the way of leadership and what I hope to accomplish with this project.
Project Advisor:
Paul Wittekind, PhD
Head Coach of Junior Team USA
Cell: 513-602-0745
Email: paulwittekind@yahoo.com
Budget:
Cost of food: 20 Euros per day (7 days in Wales=140 Euros total=$190)
Round Trip Plane Ticket Cost: $1200
Hotel Costs: $715
Personal Items Cost: $100
Transportation from Hotel to Pool (most likely via bus): $100 per person
Total Cost: $2,305