Felicia Maximiuk believed she was walking to an ordinary day of softball practice during the fall non-traditional season.
It was a little past 4 o'clock when her history course, Ancient and Medieval Worlds, let out. Hating to be late for anything, the first-year outfielder made the half-mile walk to Dempsey Field as quickly as she could.
When Maximiuk arrived, however, she found her teammates doing what looked to be Pilates on the foul line. Coaches Leigh Ann La Fave-Austin and Amanda Schneider simply told Maximuk to get on the field with her teammates and she would catch up.
The Albion College softball team wasn't just doing Pilates in the outfield that afternoon. Maximiuk and her teammates were starting to learn valuable lessons in how to set standards and hold themselves accountable from a pair of Navy SEAL officers from The Program. The Program believes in personal development, leadership development and team building through shared adversity.
"We were presented with missions that we needed to attack at 100 percent and with one heartbeat in 16 minutes," Maximiuk said. "We had 16 minutes to do an activity together as a team."
Early on, Maximiuk said, it would take the Britons two hours to finally have everyone complete the activity at an acceptable level in the 16 minutes allotted. As the Friday training continued and stretched into a Saturday morning session in the pool, however, individuals started to offer more encouragement and the Britons became more proficient at completing the missions.
"At the beginning of fall, we were just an average team in that we were getting used to each other and we did what needed to be done at practice, Maximiuk said. "Something clicked in us all of a sudden and we started clicking as a team. All of a sudden we started working as a team – we were one. We were helping each other more. We were offer suggestions or make corrections, where before we didn't know how a teammate would react to (the constructive criticism) about their batting stance. We agreed this constructive criticism is good and nobody will think you are a mean person if you say something.
"Our standards are to be a team – to be able to step up and hold each other accountable while encouraging each other," she added. "While we are different as individuals, and we all have different strengths and weaknesses, we want to make each other stronger as one team. We have been able to come together as one.
"It was intense, but it was fun and I thought it was really neat," she concluded.
Maximiuk offered an example of how she appreciated it when teammates corrected her on the route she took to a fly ball that eventually sailed over her head during the scrimmage games on Sept. 30.
"I know I have to work on my angles to get to the ball," Maximiuk began, adding that she is learning to retreat to the fence to prevent the ball from going over her head and then come in to make the catch. "I was mad at myself about taking a bad path to the ball – I know I should have had it – and the center fielder and second baseman were able to demonstrate what I should have done. They had full faith in me, they came to me with the correction and I thanked them for it."
The two games also provided a learning experience in that the Britons can't be satisfied with initial success. After picking up a victory in extra innings in the first game, the Britons didn't start the second with the same energy, and lost despite making a furious rally.
"Our energy was a little low at the start of the second game and one of us should have stepped up to say something," Maximiuk said. "I wish we had not failed, but we talked about it after the game. We all became aware of the mistake and realized that was what the SEALs were talking about.
"We didn't like the feeling of losing the game," she added. "We agreed to hold each other to the team standards because we are here to win."
Follow the Britons on Twitter: @Albion_Softball