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Hurd 1 Zachary Hurd English 106 M.

Parsons November 6, 2013 Once a Member, Always a Member Introduction High school athletics can be extremely beneficial to a teenagers personal character. Being a part of a diverse team and working with several teammates not only builds skills in teamwork and the physical aspects of that sport, but in intercommunication as well. I was very involved in my high school swim team when I attended Harrison High School. I first got involved in the sport of swimming when I was in third grade by swimming on a team with my older brother at the local YMCA. From that point, I swam on and off for a club team called Boilermaker Aquatics. With my experience in swimming competitions I planned on joining the Harrison swim team ever since I heard that my brother made the team his freshman year in high school. I believe that being a swimmer on the Harrison swim team is my Discourse. According to John Swales six definitions of a Discourse Community, a swim team must: 1. Have a broadly agreed set of common public goals, 2. Have mechanisms of intercommunication among its members, 3. Use its participatory mechanisms primarily to provide information and feedback, 4. Utilize and hence possess one or more genres in the communicative furtherance of its aims, 5. Acquire some specific lexis, and 6. Have a threshold of members with a suitable degree of relevant content and discoursal expertise. (Swales 471) Through the years that I spent with the team, I experienced several intercommunication mechanisms, learned new lexis, and shared public goals with each of my teammates. Being a part of the team changed the way I work with a group of people towards a common goal. But does this team qualify as a Swales Discourse Community?

Hurd 2 Methodology In my research process, I interviewed three previous team captains of the Harrison swim team to retrieve data. Through personal interviews, I was able to observe how each former team member felt about the topics I presented. I was able to log their responses and go over various details about the four years each of them spent on the team and how they interacted. With their insights, I was able to incorporate more of the team traditions, routines, and intercommunication methods into my ethnography. Analysis Generally, I would consider most athletic teams to fulfill the Swales criteria, knowing that an effective team depends on good communication. As a team, my teammates and I would work hard in practice twice a day in order to perform well in competitions. But every year there was one competition that our whole team was excited for and wanted to be a part of; this was the IHSAA State Championships, commonly referred to as state. It was rare for our team to send more than eight swimmers to compete at state and so there was also excitement over Sectional Championships. In this competition all of the swimmers on our team were able to compete, creating more motivation to practice hard and perform well. Amir El-Khalili, a former captain of the team, says, Not winning Sectionals in previous years was probably the biggest motivation for me to work harder (El-Khalili). Swimmer to swimmer motivation may have been more important than coach to swimmer motivation because, as former team captain Miles Demerly, says, It is a lot easier to work hard if the team as a whole is working hard, and I think our team did that well (Demerly). These were the common public goals that our team shared each year. My swim team communicated through a few different intercommunication mechanisms. There was obviously communication through verbal conversation as feedback was given between teammates and

Hurd 3 coaches constantly throughout each practice. Miles Demerly, explained that, Were all really honest and call someone out if theyre slacking off or doing a good job (Demerly). Most of the verbal communication used to motivate teammates was used during swim meets, or competitions. Joseph Oneal, another former captain, adds, Most of the communication is vocal, helping each other see what we are doing wrong or encouraging each other when we are doing well (Oneal). Team meetings were also held before practice began each day. These meetings provided information for the upcoming meets, practices, and athlete responsibilities. Another type of meeting was conducted by team captains before each home meet and the purpose of these meetings was to get each swimmer pumped up for their events in an attempt to get them to perform their best. Amir ElKhalili, described the motivation he gave, Pre-meet meetings were meant to get everyone fired up and I always built up an inspirational type of phrase to get the guys ready to go (El-Khalili). Nonverbal communication came in forms such as cheering a teammate on while they are competing. Joseph Oneal recalls being a counter for one of his teammates who regularly swam distance events, We had gone over certain motions of the counting board that coded for how far ahead or behind he was from the other swimmers in the event (Oneal). Other nonverbal communication outside of practice included text messages or checking the team Facebook page managed by the coaches. In this way we were very connected and available to communicate. Attending the team meetings and communicating with teammates or coaches can be considered as a participatory mechanism that we used to obtain feedback and get information. Occasionally, coaches reminded more experienced swimmers of how close their event times were to the schools records. One of Joseph Oneals personal goals was to get his name on the wall, which meant breaking a school record and having his name placed under his event where everyone would see it (Oneal). Having the coaches remind him of this goal influenced him to work hard in practice. Knowing that if an individual swimmer won first place in an event, then their name would be posted in the

Hurd 4 Lafayette newspaper affected Amir El-Khalilis practice performance as well (El-Khalili). With these mechanisms we modified our techniques to perform better in the pool and achieve personal goals. Every day, our team would practice in the morning before school and right after school. Before each practice we were given a practice set which included all of the work-out intervals we would have to do that day, typed up on a piece of paper. We would also read additional information about the workout sets from a dry-erase board at one end of the pool. These two genres of communication allowed us to efficiently use our time during practice. After every team meeting, one swimmer from each of the six lanes was given a piece of paper with numbers and short descriptions typed on it. Im sure that if someone who had never taken a swim course or joined a swim team were to pick up one of these practice sets, they would have trouble understanding what was typed on the page. Each method that was used to improve a specific swim technique had a name that only a swimmer would understand. For example, someone who had no prior knowledge would not realize that Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Butterfly were the four strokes of swimming. They wouldnt understand acronyms written on the practice sets either, such as SKSPS. Our team pronounces this as skips but it stands for swim, pull, swim, kick, and swim and outlines a specific warm-up swim set. Miles Demerly would name the warm down sets as on the house since we were able to take our time swimming them. Eventually, the coaches even called the warm down sets, on the house. Another acronym that we commonly used was IM. This stands food Individual Medley and describes a certain order of strokes that we would swim in a set. This lexis sets us apart from any other athletic team. Like most athletic teams, our swim team had tryouts. This means that our team had a threshold level of members that could join. Therefore, our team could otherwise be called gated. In order to make the team, a swimmer would need a certain amount of experience and capability to get through tryouts. Some swimmers were naturally talented. Joseph Oneal had originally no plans to join the swim

Hurd 5 team but was strongly encouraged by his parents (Oneal). In Amir El-Khalilis case, he joined the swim team because he, couldnt play basketball or wrestle (El-Khalili). This brings the possibility for different personal motivations or routines. Miles Demerly decided to be a part of the team each year because, so many of the swimmers made swimming enjoyable, no matter how early we had to wake up, how cold the water was, or how hard we had to practice (Demerly). After tryouts, swimmers would then be grouped into the Varsity and Junior Varsity (JV) teams. The JV team regularly swam in lanes one through four and the Varsity team in lanes five and six. This shows a small separation between Varsity and JV swimmers as well. A larger separation is seen between the swim team and the diving team. Even though swimmers depended on divers scores to win competitions, it was as though the divers were gated from the swimmer Discourse Community because they practiced differently and performed a different way. Swimmers and divers shared the same pool, the same public goals, the same buses to competitions, and the same available team food. Since each team never practiced together and would not compete the same way in competitions, little communication occurred between the teams. Conclusion Following the interviews and compilation of information that I received, I firmly believe that the Harrison High School boys swim team is its own Discourse Community. The team has similarities to many other athletic teams, but there are certainly distinct differences that set this swim team apart from any other. Our public goals, intercommunication mechanisms, communication genres, and team threshold may share similarities between other athletic teams and even more specifically, other swim teams, but the Harrison swim team will always have its own original lexis, specific intercommunication mechanisms, and certain participatory mechanisms. With these differences and the experiences I have, I can say that I am a part of this Swales Discourse Community.

Hurd 6 Works Cited Demerly, Miles. Personal Interview. October 25, 2013. El-Khalili, Amir. Personal Interview. October 24, 2013. Oneal, Joseph. Personal Interview. October 24, 2013. Swales, John. The Concept of Discourse Community. Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings. Boston: Cambridge UP, 1990. 21-32. Print.