The tale of the Captain and the Benchwarmer

 Note: Since I’m low on time because of working essentially 24/7 this week at a camp,  I thought it might be opportune to publish my old college admissions essays as blog posts. While they are circa 2010, I believe good writing is timeless. Hopefully this is good writing… First in the series is my personal essay about how the 2009 Chris Clark trade made me reexamine my own role as: the Benchwarmer.

Prompt: It’s easy to identify with the hero-the literary or historical figure who saves the day. Have you ever identified with a figure who wasn’t a hero-a villain or a scapegoat, a bench-warmer or a bit player? If so, tell us why this figure appealed to you-and if your opinion changed over time, tell us about that, too.

Explanation: I believe that this essay represents my empathy as a person and explains an important personal experience.


According to the sports pundits, Chris Clark was “on the wrong side of thirty.”

Even after recovering from a lengthy bout of injuries, Clark found himself sitting the bench for the Washington Capitals hockey team.

However, one look at the captain’s “C” stitched on the front of Clark’s sweater, and it was obvious that he did not need to be on the ice to make an impact. While Clark was neither the face of the franchise nor a league all-star, his identity as a hardworking veteran defined him as a team leader.

Then, without any warning,a mid-season trade sent him to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Washington Post reported that Clark felt “blindsided.”

“Blindsided,” such a cruel adjective, perfectly described my feelings upon hearing the news.

The trade was a logical choice for the team’s management. However, on a personal level, the reasons for the departure seemed cold and emotionally vacant.

My two years of playing JV field hockey, although lacking any notable athletic success, had forged a unique connection between this professional hockey player and me.

Much like Chris Clark, my presence as a leader came from an ability to support and inspire others. For my team, the encouragement I provided served the same purpose as the inspiration that Clark had given the Capitals during his four years as captain.

Sports had gifted me the valuable epiphany that sometimes the “bench-warmers,” like Clark and I, could be the most important players on a team.

Shortly after Clark’s departure, the Capitals suffered a losing streak.

The sports pundits analyzed each penalty and missed shot searching for an explanation to this mid-season meltdown. I believe, however, the explanation could not be found on the ice.

The answer to the team’s problems was sitting on a bench in Columbus, Ohio.


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