When people think of Duke, usually the first thing that comes to mind is basketball. How exciting would it be to play with former Duke basketball players? I found out on Team Changeover Day. On this particular day, at the end of October, I not only met my new MMS teammates, but we also had a great time playing basketball.

In the MMS program, I worked with one team of classmates during the first 2 terms, and then was assigned to a new team for the rest of the year. During the Team Changeover Day, after meeting my new teammates, we all participated in a basketball themed team building experience. We went to the nearby Emily K. Center where the gym floor is THE floor from the 2001 NCAA men’s basketball championship, and we were literally coached by former Duke basketball players! The coaches ran us through various physical exercises that are important in the game, but also connect to bigger team skills. There was a lesson involved with every activity. First, we shared the glory of the Blue Devil basketball team by listening to their amazing stories about how the team made their way to the 2001 championship, and how teamwork was an important factor. Then, the best part of the day was when we stepped onto the basketball court and were divided into five sections.

student with basketball
Waiting for my turn to shoot.

We took turns practicing different basketball techniques. More importantly, we learned to build a team as a “fist.” The five fingers in the fist, as identified by Coach K, are communication, care, collective responsibility, trust and pride. During the day, each activity we went through related to the fist:

Communication – Passing the ball is a two-person job

“Arian!” ”Teck!” ”Cathy!” I was calling out my teammates names while I passed the ball to them. Passing the ball and catching it was not difficult at all, but even the most simple communications at the same time surprisingly helped us to connect. Everyday, Fuqua encourages students to talk more frequently, and MMS even has two Business Communication courses in just 10 months. Here at Fuqua, I learn how to exchange ideas and thoughts effectively in every possible way.

There was the occasional fumble, but it was ok!

Care – Take good care of the ball

Our task is to take care of the ball in our hands. As an inexperienced basketball player, I admit that I struggled to carry the basketball in various ways. But that was okay. Few students were very good at it, but every one of us tried our very best. Only when everyone carried the ball carefully can a team of five players control the ball but not lose any opportunity. Likewise, to successfully build a high performance team, everyone has to commit to the team and the assignments we have.

Collective responsibility – “I love defense!”

Honestly, we sounded a bit nuts as we yelled, “I love defense!” louder and louder. Defense was not the most fancy part of basketball, but it is significantly important. In any team, there are shooters as well as good defense players; in any winning team, shooters and defense players collaborate well together. In many occasions Fuqua advocates that a well-collaborated team of average individuals always outperforms a team of uncooperative experts. That’s why teamwork is a huge part of Fuqua culture, which I found extremely valuable and beneficial.

Trust – Trust my teammate will rebound and score

Rebound, a set of techniques designed to break heavy defense, was my favorite skill. Though there was actually no one near me, I did rebound like I was facing defensive players. However, the point is not to rebound and score by myself, but to pass the ball to my teammates and have faith that they will also do a very good job. The coach explained to us that believing in our teammates is as important as self-confidence, because trust is actually the foundation of an outstanding functional team.

Pride – Shooting is what matters

I wrapped up my Duke basketball experience that morning by shooting. Yes, after all, scoring is what matters in a game. I had a great time practicing and scored a few times. As a team member, when I have the chance to “shoot,” I should not have doubt, should not hesitate, but take the responsibility and do my best.

The Team Changeover Day was a good start of the second Fall Term. And now I have a Duke basketball jersey hanging in my closet, reminding me to be part of a “fist” with communication, care, collective responsibility, trust and pride. I love Fuqua, and I love Team Fuqua even more!