Adam Krause, Justin Crandall and Andy Welinski are the definition of home-grown talent. The trio grew up playing hockey on Minnesota ice and are now the core leadership of the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.
Krause, the senior captain, played for Hermantown’s youth hockey association. Welinski, a junior and alternate captain, was right next door playing in Duluth Amateur Hockey Association. Crandall, a senior and alternate captain, played in Lakeville.
Just as they have Minnesota roots engrained deeply in their hockey upbringing, the captains of the Bulldogs share a similar approach to what it means to be a leader.
Good leadership can be defined in many ways. Krause, Crandall and Welinksi each weighed in the topic individually, and all preached the same ideas. Ultimately, the concept boils down to a few main ideas: setting a good example, being consistent, and being a good teammate.
Whether it’s getting to the rink early, giving it your all in practice or staying late to work on your shot, working hard and focusing on the details can help you earn the respect of your teammates and coaches.
“It’s all about the example you set,” Krause said, who is in his second season as captain of the Bulldogs. “For me, I try not to say too much, but do it by showing. I just don’t want to talk about it and not do it myself. Being the example is the most important thing.”
Welinksi echoed Krause’s feelings, also adding that being focused for practice and not cutting corners – simply doing what is being asked – can help you set yourself apart.
Another important key to being a good leader is to be consistent day to day, to bring the same approach to the ice each practice or game.
“Being a leader, I think it’s important to show up and be the same person every day – always bringing your effort, work ethic and a positive attitude,” Crandall noted.
This goes hand-in-hand with leading by example. The more consistent you can be in your attitude and effort, the more other teammates will naturally follow.
“The easiest thing I’ve always been taught at a young age is talk is cheap; the easiest way to be a leader is to lead by example,” Crandall added. “If you’re working hard and doing all the right things, people gravitate towards that.”
One of the most important aspects of a being a leader is earning the respect of your teammates. Without the respect of your peers, you can’t lead effectively.
“I think the biggest thing is really caring about your teammates and showing that you care about everybody,” Crandall said.
“Just being the best teammate you can be, that’s an easy way to get the respect of your teammates and be seen as a leader,” Welinski added. “I think having the respect of your teammates and knowing that you’re going to go out and work hard, they know what they’re going to get every day.”
While these concepts are important to keep in mind, it’s also key to remember that you don’t need a letter on the front of your sweater to be a leader. Krause, Crandall and Welinski each noted there are leaders within their locker room who don’t have a captain’s title.
“Just because you’re not wearing a letter doesn’t mean you don’t have a say in the locker room and you can’t be a really good leader,” Crandall said.
“There are plenty of guys even on my team that aren’t wearing letters but they’re setting an example just as much as I am,” Krause added. “Just because I might have a letter on my jersey doesn’t mean they don’t make an impact like I do and can. They may not get the recognition, but they’re still doing it for the right reasons and the betterment of the team.”
The reality is the more players displaying these leadership qualities the more likely teams are to experience success. Teams full of leaders develop a support network that enables teammates to consistently fuel each other’s drive and motivation, which in turn speeds up everyone’s development on and off the ice.
So the question becomes, are you being a leader on your team?