Thursday, June 29, 2017

UVAFinance Softball Team builds collaboration on and off the field

Think about the last “team-building” exercise you took part in. Hopefully it didn’t involve any “trust falls,” but even if it didn’t, it probably wasn’t as fun as playing softball with your colleagues on a lovely summer evening.

This is the second summer that UVAFinance has had a softball team available for staff and their families. The team, originally called the “Carruthers Crushers,” was formed last year in Student Financial Services (SFS) to take part in UVA’s summer Faculty and Staff league.

“We had a blast in the Faculty and Staff league,” said Xavier Wiltbank, an application and systems analyst and programmer in SFS and team organizer.
The Carruthers Crushers (crushing it!)

Wiltbank and his SFS teammates soon realized that with the growing number of people from UVAFinance who were interested in playing, it might be easier, and less intimidating for all, if they removed some of the competition and rules that came with league play and just formed a league of their own.

That’s exactly what they did, and this summer’s UVAFinance team plays in a very relaxed environment, usually one night a week on Copeley Field. Staff members of all skill levels come out to play, often bringing family members. Some just come to cheer their colleagues on.

For Danielle Hancock, Training and Development Specialist in Outreach and Compliance, the best part of playing on the team has been getting to know her colleagues.

“There are so many people I don’t work with regularly,” she said, “but I get to know them on the softball field, and we’re smiling and laughing the whole time.”

Participation on the team spans all departments within UVAFinance. Wiltbank says a group of 30 people from all departments regularly take part in the (mostly) weekly games. Players also represent all ages and all skill levels.
Email Xavier Wiltbank if you'd like more information.

“We have people who’ve never played before, and people who used to play in school. We’re not really looking for players of any particular skill level; we just want people to come join us and enjoy themselves,” said Wiltbank.

For an organization made up of many departments, softball has been a fun, team-building endeavor – a great way to open up channels across departments.

“Work is work,” said Wiltbank, adding, “but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy yourself while you’re doing it, and playing a game of softball together helps build relationships to make work more enjoyable.”

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