NEW ORLEANS – It was perhaps an unusual day for the 2009-10 Tulane University women’s tennis team, but the squad learned a lot about themselves as individuals and as teammates on Saturday, Sept. 6, when the Green Wave spent the day doing team-building exercises at a C.O.P.E. Course at Camp V-Bar in Perkinston, Miss.
Devised by the Boy Scouts of America, Project C.O.P.E. – which stands for Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience – helps a team learn about its members and their respective performance and leadership characteristics. With a team featuring seven returning sophomores and three true freshmen, second-year head coach Terri Sisk decided she wanted to try something a little different to build team camaraderie prior to the start of the upcoming season.
“The C.O.P.E. course was an incredible experience for our young team,” Sisk said. “It was really fun for me to watch the girls problem solve and to really have to communicate amongst each other to get the different tasks completed. It truly was a hands-on day having to help hoist each other over walls, catch each other falling off platforms, trusting each other to lead the other one over obstacles, etc. I truly believe that team outings of this nature only help the girls to grow together and really trust each other to know that she really does ‘have your back’.”
Project C.O.P.E. is designed to help a team achieve six main objectives - teamwork, communication, trust, decision making, leadership, problem solving. Throughout the day, members of the Tulane women’s tennis team, including Coach Sisk, tackled several elements to help develop each of the objectives.
In the morning, the team learned trust and communication by going on a blind-folded “trust walk” in which the student-athletes took turns leading each other around nearby obstacles. Following a brief lesson spotting and command protocol, it was on to the C.O.P.E course itself where the Green Wave went through an array of challenges which included simple elements like the human knot – where the team simply joined hands and had to find a way to untangle itself to reform a single circle – and the elevated log – where the student-athletes had to climb on and switch places without falling off.
Following a break for lunch, it was on to the high course. While the low elements of Project C.O.P.E. are designed mostly for team exercises, the high elements are director more toward individual achievement, including overcoming personal fears and a sense of accomplishment. Donning helmets and harnesses, and using other climbing equipment, the team went through a six-obstacle course that got progressively higher and ended with a 150-yard ride on a zip-line.
“I have to say that the course was much harder then it looked,” Tulane freshman Emma Levy said. “We did not have a traditional tennis practice that day, but it was a practice of its own. The zip line was my favorite part of this activity. The feeling that you get when zipping along this long cable line is simply unbelievable. It was exhilarating and simply a life of its own.”
The event was set up and facilitated by Tulane assistant director of athletic communications, Richie Weaver – who in his time away from the office is a volunteer for the Southeast Louisiana Council of the Boy Scouts of American. He was assisted by local firefighter and BSA volunteer Keith Barbazon as well as members of local Troop 231, Michael Shedrick, Jon Prado, Ryan Hondrouolis and Michael Derbes.
“I want to thank Richie Weaver and his incredible staff at the Boy Scout camp,” Sisk said. “They were great leaders for this young team. We are already looking forward to our next outing.”
The Tulane women’s tennis team opens the fall portion of its schedule on Friday, Sept. 18, when the Green Wave open play in the Memphis Collegiate Invitational in Memphis, Tenn.