Learning to lead from the sidelines


Learning to lead from the sidelines
Photo by Heather Davidson

After an injury at the beginning of the 2013 season, Tanner Philp had to lead the Wilfrid Laurier University football team from the sidelines.

During practice before the first game of the season, the second-year team captain tore his ACL while jumping up for a ball.

At first he didn’t think he was injured, but after the x-ray came back he was told that he would be unable to play for the entire season.

The newly appointed captain — voted by his teammates — had to figure out how to be a leader from off the field.

It was then that he received the best advice someone could ever give him.

“I remember coach [Anthony] Cannon, the d-line coach, pulled me aside and said, ‘a lot of people are going to look to see how you approach this situation, you can go one of two ways with it. You can crawl into a hole and say “poor me” or you can lead by example and attack this thing full force,’ ” Philp explained.

He chose the latter option and allowed his injury to fuel his motivation to come back as quick as he could.

“I wanted to put my stamp on it, to get back faster than a lot of other people,” Philp said. “That was something that was a big goal of mine.”

He accomplished this in six months and was able to return by spring camp following the season.

Philp said he was thankful for the support system he is surrounded with at Laurier, including athletic therapist Teresa Hussey and his roommates, teammates and coaches.

Philp did not remain idle while he was sidelined for the season. Instead, he said spent time learning the strategic aspect of the game and became a smarter player.

“I joked around that I was leading the team in ‘mental reps,’ because even though I wasn’t on the field for anything I was still trying to learn tremendously,” Philp said. “I was still in all the film sessions and I was trying to contribute everywhere I could.”

Football remained close to Philp’s heart, as he continued to stay involved as a member of the Laurier Lettermen. He said his favourite event was the kids’ day and hospital visit, which he helped organize.

“We were able to bring in over 300 kids and we had 30 volunteers,” he said. “It was a really cool experience.”

Coming into next year, Philp said he plans to be extremely involved at Laurier. Along with becoming the vice president of Laurier Lettermen, Philp will be a teaching assistant for the business program, will continue his roles with learning services and work with Residence Life as a mentor to a new varsity cluster being put together.

And of course, he is expecting to rejoin his teammates on the field for the next season.

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