Rachel Dawson - USA Field Hockey - UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

On the world’s biggest stage, teamwork makes the dream work

Rachel Dawson (BSBA ’07) will represent Team USA in Rio – her third Olympic Games. We caught up with the former UNC Field Hockey scholar-athlete to get the inside scoop on what it’s like competing on the world’s biggest stage and the essentials for building an all-star team.

What does it mean to you to represent Team USA at the Olympics for the third time?
Representing Team USA at the Olympics is a tremendous responsibility. It’s also an opportunity to connect with and inspire others. We can help someone discover a deeper sense of power or passion within themselves that they didn’t know was there, just by being an example and a role model. It’s really incredible.

What’s it like to compete on the world’s biggest stage for sports?
It’s exhilarating. We train for four years for two weeks of competition. Then all of a sudden, we’re thrust onto the biggest stage – the Olympics – and come face-to-face with our destiny. It’s our time to perform. At the end of the day, we’ve trained really hard and we know who we are as players and as a team. We take the field on day one knowing we’re fully prepared for whatever comes at us.

What has field hockey taught you about the importance of teamwork?
Field hockey is definitely a team sport. It’s about people coming together to do something bigger than themselves. Everyone has different strengths, and no one is more valuable than the other – that’s what makes a team. Every member of Team USA contributes in different ways based on our own strengths. That’s what makes the whole greater than each individual.

There are so many parallels between sports and business. The success of any team depends on every individual contributing towards a common goal. In business, it’s about people working together to create something – a product, service or experience – bigger than themselves. People are the raw materials in any organization.

What’s the secret to gelling as a team and building a culture of success?
We spoke a lot about this when our team got a new coach four years ago. Culture is how you live day in and day out – it’s not something that just happens the day of the Olympics.

There’s a great quote – “How you do anything is how you do everything.” That’s really what success comes down to.

I try to live by those words. I am mindful in how I eat, how I treat people and how I prepare for practice. Our actions become our habits. When we take the field, we instinctively do what we’ve done habitually.

By Kristen Chung (BSBA ’17)