Sep 6, 2013
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa women's basketball team moved outside the arena last week, and the Hawkeyes came together after going through "The Program's Judgment Day."
UI head coach Lisa Bluder brought in two members of The Program -- Sam Cila and Gen Richardson -- to work with the team on leadership and team-building through a two-day series of physically intense exercises called 'Judgment Day.' One day is spent on a designated field, the other in the pool.
The Program's mission is to develop better leaders and create more cohesive teams.
"The Program is a leadership and team development company," said Cila. "We challenge teams to get better. We challenge them by having them make a commitment to our three core principles.
"No. 1, we are physically and mentally tough. No. 2, we do not make excuses and do not let others make excuses for us. No. 3, and most importantly, we work hard. We define working hard as doing one more in everything we do. Find out what your one more is, and do it each and every day; make a commitment to doing that, and ultimately, you will get that much better."
The experience challenged the Hawkeyes and made the team come together.
"It was extremely challenging; challenges I have never faced before that I did not think I could do," said freshman Alexa Kastanek. "We kept telling each other we could do it, no matter what. That is the challenge: becoming a team and knowing that everyone had each other's backs."
"It was tough, but you have to push through it for your team," said junior Samantha Logic. "That is why we are here; to build team chemistry, trust, and everything you need to be successful to take that next step. That is what we want to do and why the coaches brought them here, so we can advance further than the second round of the NCAA Tournament."
The Hawkeyes feel The Program's mission also became the result of the two-day experience.
"It was a huge team building experience for us. We learned a number of valuable lessons and a lot about our teammates; there is nothing more valuable than that."
-- sophomore Kathryn Reynolds
"I know that I can hold my teammates accountable, and they can hold me accountable," said Kastanek on what she took from the experience. "No matter what, we are going to be a well-working machine, and we know we can always work together to reach our goals no matter what, because that is what we did during 'The Program.'"
"It was a huge team building experience for us," said sophomore Kathryn Reynolds. "We learned a number of valuable lessons and a lot about our teammates; there is nothing more valuable than that."
Cila is a former member of the United States Army that distinguished himself for his heroism, ultimately earning a Purple Heart. Richardson played ice hockey at Boston College before competing on the U.S. women's ice hockey team. The duo believes the Hawkeyes made strides during the experience.
"(It was) a great buy in (from the team)," said Cila. "We taught them how to get that much better. Now, the challenge is for them to make that commitment, not just today, tomorrow, or the day after that, but long into the season. Getting better is a choice and a habit."
For the Hawkeyes, it is a choice they are sure to make.
"The experience provided some of the most challenging experiences of my life," said sophomore Claire Till. "The way we came together as a team, each hour, getting through things we had no idea we could do, pushing ourselves to the limits, it was awesome to see. We can do anything we set our minds too. If you believe in yourself and your teammates around you, anything can happen.
"We have to keep working and keep fighting. We have a new appreciation for the level we can reach, in workouts, conditioning, and practice. We know the level we can get to and how hard we need to push."