There IS an “I” in Team by Coach Jamie Silber

Guest Blog by Coach Jamie Silber

I remember vividly the day my father took me out to the front lawn for a game of catch.  I was finally old enough to start Pee-Wee baseball and he wanted to show me the basics. Secretly I was dreading the idea of being on a baseball field in full view and of the judgement of other kids and parents. I already knew my hand-eye coordination was sub-par…or rather my eyesight was. When my father threw me the ball, it would hit me in the forehead most of the time. But I was even more fearful that lack of ability would be mocked by my teammates.

It only took one practice an numerous head shots, follow by tears of pain and embarrassment to convince my father to take me home. I decided right then to never be on a team again. My father did his best to disguise his frustration as he saw the resignation in my eyes (one being half closed due to a direct hit in the temple from Jonny Maygor). I told him that “I” was never going to be apart of a team, ever!

After a long speech and more consoling, my father did his best to dry up my tears, but left me determined to cut my own path in sports.

At 4 years old I took up skateboarding, then surfing soon followed. I learned to snow ski down black diamond slopes at 5 and followed that with waterskiing, climbing, running, cycling, swimming…are you beginning to see a trend in my approach to sports and lifestyle?

It wasn’t until I was 15 (9th grader), on a faithful day, the cross-county coach at my school was frantically looking for a runner to fill his team roster for an event that same afternoon. He spotted me like a hawk and came running directly at me from across the playground. I was taken aback at his earnestness in thinking that  “I” would be a perfect addition to complete his cross-country team.

As I listened to him, his words became mute and my fears came back like a tidal wave as if I was three years old again, standing on a grass field, trying to catch a ball, hoping it would not bean me in the four head again.

Then without any forethought, the words that came out of my mouth shocked me: “Sure, I’ll run. What do I need to do?”

Next thing I knew I was on the team bus sitting with my fellow teammates. I attended a small private school, so I knew most of them, however I viewed them to be skinny nerds that kept to themselves, thick as thieves in social and school functions. When we arrived at the meet, the coach took me aside and briefly explain to me how cross country works and what my role would be. He explained that every school enters 10 runners, but only the top five runners from each school earns points. The goal is to accumulate the least amount of points based on your overall finish among the other runners.

With my stomach turning into knots and beads of sweat running down my four head, I headed to the start and lined up with all the other runners.

Just moments before the gun went off, the coach took me aside again and told me he has a strategy for me. “Since nobody knows who you are, I want you to go out with the leaders, and for as long as you can, set a pace that will keep the other runners behind you.”


The smell of wet grass and a ball hurling towards me at 1,000,000 miles an hour, heading directly for my frontal lobe was clouding my vision. I started to feel nauseous and I begged the coach to let me just sit in with the other runners. I told him, “I don’t think I can even complete the distance (5K)!  Please let me just hang in the back, they won’t even know I’m there.”

He then spoke some words to me that I’ll remember for the rest of my life….”You’re on a team now. The team needs you to do this. You’ll set up the other teams so they’ll tire themselves out, chasing somebody they’ve never seen before. You’ll be doing something really valuable to help this team achieve a victory today.”

All of a sudden, I heard the air being split by the crack of a starter gun. I took off running as fast as I could.  The smell of wet grass started to wain from my senses. The odd appearance of a baseball, seemingly going in reverse motion, away from my forehead this time. It wasn’t long before a sense of calm came over me. I was running fast, but at the same time I did not feel any discomfort. I would look occasionally behind me and the runners seemed to keep me at bay. When I hit the halfway point my coach yelled at me and said “What are you doing?” I yelled back: “What you told me to do… I’m running as fast as I can”.

With the finish line in sight I looked once more behind me and several runners were closing in quickly. I looked at the finish line and like a funhouse with trick mirrors, the finish line kept on getting farther and farther away. The tightening of my lungs and the burning in my legs was too much to bear. The wheels started coming off and my knees started to knock. I feared that I wasn’t going to be able to even finish the race. Then without warning as if my eyes were closed for what seemed like a life time, I was across the finish line, lying in the dirt – in a world of hurt.

The coach came running up to me and at the top of his lungs he cried: “Do you realize what you done, do you realize what you’ve done?” I placed third overall in the race and had broken the school record for the 5K.

On the bus ride home I was enveloped in a sweaty fog. I stayed very quiet as my teammates tacitly kept their distance. Then, as we were about to pull into our school parking lot, one of the older kids came up to me and said, “Welcome to the team Jamie.”

For the first time in my life “I” was a part of the team.

Tuesday’s Workout
Recovery Practice

Front squats
3-5 x 3 (~85-90%)

Weighted chinups
Work up to heavy 5

B) EMOM 20 at ≤ 7 RPE
Min 1: 3-6 Inverted burpees
Min 2: 30-50 Double unders
Min 3: 8-12 HR Pushups
Min 4: 6-10 Overhead squats (50-55%)
–30sec Cap each min–


Wednesday’s Workout
Recovery Practice

3-5 x 3 (~85-90%)

B) EMOM 10
3 Position power snatch
(High to low)

C) 4 RFQ, w/ a partner at ≤ 7 RPE
A: 200m Row
B: Max strict dips
Switch and repeat
–SOMSAVS scoring–


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