Being a leader is never easy, but the captains of the Bruins men’s basketball team have found ways to be effective leaders both on and off the court.
Juniors Ray Holden and Kyle Turner have been a part of the Bruins basketball program since its inaugural season. The 2014-15 season was the first season that Turner and Holden were captains, but they were both making an impact long before this year. Throughout their time as student-athletes, both men have displayed exemplary character and perseverance, which makes it no surprise that they were chosen as leaders this year.
The past season was only the second time the men’s basketball team has appointed more than one captain, but both men expressed that having two captains has worked out well. “Ray is very vocal, and I’m more mild-mannered and more of a leader by example,” Turner said. “The coaches thought we would play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses really well.”
Turner and Holden said they both enjoy being captains, and they consider the position a privilege as it allows them to represent Bob Jones University, the team and, ultimately, Christ.
Holden believes being a captain requires a level of Christlike selflessness. “As a leader you have to look to serve other people,” Holden said. “It’s hard, but I’m blessed.”
The Bruins consisted of a largely freshman roster this season for whom Holden and Turner had to set an example. Holden mentioned that the first year of play for freshmen is vital because they are figuring out not only their roles as players, but also how to become the men into whom God is molding them. As Captains, Holden and Turner are a big part in setting that example, pushing the younger players to do their best and encouraging them every step of the way. “You are an example, and the coaches tend to be harder on you,” Turner said.
On the court this season, the freshmen had to learn their new roles on the team alongside the upperclassmen. Though they did an exceptional job of being able to play well with each other by the end of the season, the Bruins struggled early and suffered from a long losing streak. It was during this streak that the players, coaches and captains grew the most and learned how to overcome adversity. Holden and Turner were susceptible to discouragement just as much as the rest of the players, but knew that their position as leaders demanded that they set the example during the low times.
“When times are tough, that’s when you really dig deep and find out who you are,” Holden said. “You do your best to pull out all the good things and use that to encourage the guys.”
Turner mentioned that being a team captain seems like being a father in a sense. You encourage your teammates as much as you can and pick them up when they are down, but you also get to share in their joy. “When someone does something really well, you can feel really proud,” Turner said.
Holden was also determined in times of discouragement not to let his teammates’ attitudes deflate. “Discouraged we may be, but defeated we’ll never become,” Holden said. He said he personally followed this philosophy his first few years on the team when an injury kept him out of the end of his freshman season, and he was forced to play with a knee brace his entire sophomore year.
He came back his junior year, fired up and ready to lead the team as co-captain alongside his friend and teammate.
“To be able to play my junior year and just to dunk and to run was a huge blessing and answer to prayer,” Holden said.
The second half of this season improved from the first as the two captains led their team into January and February games. With the season progressing, the team increasingly looked up to its captains and came to rely on them, especially in big games. Holden and Turner both felt that as leaders they were looked upon to step up and make big plays. Turner always seemed to be able to make the big shots when needed, while Holden would dive for loose balls and encourage his team and do everything he could to contribute to his team’s success.
The captains have learned a lot about leadership and life through their experiences in leadership.
“It’s taught me to always be aware that everybody’s always watching,” Holden said. “Leadership is 24/7. You have to do what’s right consistently, with excellence, all the time.”
Turner also expressed that he grew as a leader and learned a lot through this year. His faith also plays a large part in his leadership, as he prays for his teammates daily and takes special consideration for his roommate and teammate Dustin Killough. Turner has the opportunity to disciple him as they play and room together.
“I am incredibly incapable just by myself, just in the sense that, as captain, I couldn’t do it if I didn’t have Ray, the coaches, the players and God,” Turner said. “I constantly make mistakes but it’s just [important] to learn from those, and [put them] behind you.”
Holden and Turner will continue to lead the Bruins into the 2015-16 season. The two captains are excited for what the next season will bring as they have a large group of returning teammates who love to play together and love to have fun whether it be at games, on road trips, or just in the locker room.