MULLEN MOMO: What makes a great teammate?

Bishop Luers celebrates after their October 1 win over Bishop Dwenger. (Photo by John Felts)

Joining the Outside the Huddle staff in 2021 is former Bishop Luers standout Kendrick Mullen. The member of the Class of 2013 suited up for Ball State University and after college served as an assistant coach for several years with his high school alma mater. Mullen is now a football trainer and 7v7 coach at Optimum Performance Sports.

Kendrick’s weekly column goes by the name “Mullen MoMo.” According to Kendrick himself, MoMo was something late Bishop Luers coach Mike Egts used to say to players to get them going. “I’m pretty sure it just means like momentum or something,” Kendrick says.

Rivalry Week in the Summit Athletic Conference is a wrap and it certainly did not disappoint.

All but one game out of the five were decided by one possession.

Three victorious teams ended droughts against their rivals that had lasted three or more years.

The other two teams who won have senior classes that have never lost to their top adversary in varsity football. It was a great night, to say the least. 

There are many things to take from high school athletics that go beyond wins and losses. One aspect that I pay very close attention to are the interactions between teammates. The bond that players have with each other is important for team success. The overall chemistry of the team is more efficient when teammates are striving towards the same goal.  

Over the course of a season there are many situations that define the type of teammate a player is. I think at times being a good teammate is not brought to light as often as it should. Sure, when all is going well for your team it’s pretty easy to come off as a good teammate. The low moments are when you find out just what a player is made of. It shows good character to be able to pick up a teammate when things aren’t going your way. Something as simple as telling a teammate to “shake it off” after a bad play can go a long way in how that player responds to adversity.

I love watching players get excited for each other’s personal success. When a big play is made, players rush over to celebrate each other. It shows camaraderie and unity between teammates. And when I see teammates picking each other up it brings a bigger meaning to the game of football.

There is one player who stands out to me as a great teammate – Aden Dennis from Bishop Luers.

Despite being the new kid on campus this year, Dennis has fit right in since Day 1. He goes around with a positive energy that can uplift anyone.

Dennis, who has been sidelined since Week 3, is still overcoming his own adversity with a wrist injury. While he is expected to return to action for the final game of the regular season, having to sit out for six weeks during your senior season is not an ideal situation to be in. Last weekend, I spoke with Dennis about just what goes into his pride in being the best teammate he can possibly be.

‘AD,’ as he is very well known as, isn’t your typical player. He has one speed: GO! His high energy and motor creates a matchup nightmare on both sides of the ball. He is constantly getting after the other team’s quarterback from his defensive end position. On offense, he can wear down a defense with his tough running abilities, as well as burn teams deep with his big-time playmaking from the slot.

Let’s just be honest here, the kid is an absolute stud. In fact, last year he was named Outside The Huddle’s Fan Choice Player of the Year for the 2020 season.

Everyone knows what AD brings to the table while he is playing on the field. When it was reported that he would be out for six weeks with a dislocated wrist that he suffered Week 2 against Wayne, the fate of Luers’ perfect season seemed to diminish for most. The Knights were scheduled to play Homestead the week following Dennis’ injury, a game where both teams came in at 2-0 and needed all hands on deck. 

For Aden to be able to make an impact for his team, he would have to rely on something more than his athletic abilities. I asked AD what his newfound role on the team has been since his injury. His response was that he sees his role being one of the most important roles on the team.

“When we make bad plays or when things don’t go our way I have to go up to teammates and say ‘you’re fine, worry about the next play’ and just be encouraging,” Dennis said.

The positivity that Dennis gives off is something that has aided the Knights in their pursuit of perfection. He went on to talk about how vital his positive approach was during the Battle of the Bishops against Bishop Dwenger in Week 7. The game was close with plenty of lead changes. AD wanted to make a point to not only get his team hype, but the crowd as well. The Knights eventually went on to get the huge win against their rival to remain undefeated.

Being the hype man on the team is nothing new to Dennis, so his ability to uplift his teammates is just natural. Taking on that responsibility is something that is important to him. It’s the unfortunate situation that he is in during his last go in prep football that makes his efforts stand out.

Dennis admitted that it is hard at times having to be on the sidelines rather than on the playing field. He says what gets him through those times is just trying not to think about himself and instead think about his teammates first. 

I previously mentioned that Dennis is the new kid on campus this year at Bishop Luers. Having spent his previous three years of high school at Huntington North, he was in unknown territory making the move to East Paulding Road. Although he already knew many players on the team, joining the Luers football family was a different feeling. 

In the offseason the Knights took a trip to Trine University for an overnight team camp. This experience with his coaches and teammates made the transition a lot smoother for Dennis. He recalled the trip being a time where his teammates were able to learn more about him on a personal level. It also gave coaches a good idea of his skill set and the different ways he could be used on the field. Dennis loved every minute of it. Developing personal bonds with his team is something that goes much farther than suiting up for the Knights on Fridays, which is why he has still been an effective part of the team’s 7-0 record.

Dennis is expected to make his return back on the field for the regular season finale against Snider in a matchup that could decide the SAC championship. The game has sorely missed AD and his playmaking abilities, but Luers has been able to stay on track in his absence. His presence being on the sidelines cheering on his teammates has played a huge part in the team’s continued success. Whether he is on the field or not you will get the same positive attitude from him.

Being a good teammate is something that is often overlooked, but is a very key component in establishing a solid foundation for a team. Everyone wants to be a great player, but for a team to reach its maximum potential, teammates should want each other to be great as well.

A good teammate realizes that everyone has value and a role to uphold in order for the team to be successful. Saying words of encouragement to a teammate who is struggling could be the difference in changing their negative approach.

The most important part of being a great teammate is to be someone who is dependable. Your teammates are counting on someone to be there for them during the times of celebration and the times of adversity. The bonds that are built in the weight room, locker room and on the field are the bonds that you will remember for a lifetime.

Mullen MoMo appears every week during the prep football season. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. 

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