Haute Volée Pole Vaulter and Oiselle staffer, Kristina Owsinski, explains what team has meant to her throughout her athletic career.
Team: a group of players forming one side in a competitive game or sport.
My Definition of Team: A community that supports me, pushes me, and holds me up when I’m down. My Tribe.
I’ve been an athlete my whole life, but weirdly never felt as though I was a part of a quote on quote, “team.” I’ve always participated in individual events that reflected individual performance. Gymnastics until I was 14 and Pole Vault until now. From this, I’ve had to create my own definition of team.
On youth teams and in High School I may not have had this exact definition but I knew that we would always have something in common that brought us together. From High School to College I went in with the same mindset and my college teammates never let me down. They pushed me every day to be the best athlete I could be. I had so many moments of success on the track and every single occasion was shared with the people who helped get me there.
Transitioning from a college team to pursuing a pole vault career on my own was scary. I knew I needed help but I had no idea how to ask for it. I think this mindset comes from society constantly telling us success must be earned individually. That despite our individual identities, we all start on a level playing field... clearly this isn’t true. It ingrains the practice of never asking for help, never depending on a community to lift you up or push you to your greatest limits, and I think those are all the aspects of being on a team that I love.
The definition of team has changed for me over the years. As I get older and more competitive I need a team behind me not for my greatest accomplishments but for my lowest lows. Joining the Haute Volée team here at Oiselle has given me the comfort of being able to turn to people when I fail. However, the biggest gain I’ve felt from joining the O family has been from my Volée team members. There are women all over the world that I feel have my back. We are all a part of this community that believes in supporting and empowering women and I have never felt so connected to so many people I’ve never met. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve teared up from hearing the same story of the cowbell corner that kept someone going. I understand why community is so important.
Although I’m not a runner and I don’t get to experience a cowbell corner during my competition, the love and encouragement I get every day from the wonderful people in my Oiselle community are equivalent. For me I know this isn’t the last definition of team I will form. I will gain more and give more for the rest of my days because I know how important it is to find your tribe and love them hard.
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