Team Bonding

Edward Segal

A bond formed between athletes through the exhilarating journey of wins and losses is like no other.

The love of the game is what keeps people motivated to continue playing, but the bond with teammates is what allows that love to go beyond the sport.

For the CSUN softball team, the system of accountability partners assigned by the coaching staff helps develop these bonds. The coaches pair a freshman with a returning player so everyone who is new has someone with experience to lean on for support, and everyone who is coming back makes a new friend to talk to.

For outfielder Maiya Alemania, this allows her to lean on fellow outfielder Bella Mejia when things don’t go her way on the field, and gives her someone to celebrate with.

“It’s more of a trust system,” Alemania, a junior majoring in child development, said. “We just kind of pick each other up through the ups and downs on the field. And we know we can trust that we can do whatever we’re supposed to do on the field, and when things don’t go our way, we know that we can rely on each other to be there to talk or pick each other up.”

As someone who joined the team in 2021, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alemania said that having that bond with players on the team gave her someone to talk to during difficult times. She came to CSUN from Northern
California, and the move away from her community to campus was a big obstacle her teammates helped her overcome. 

Will Navarro

The child development major said that the biggest thing her accountability partners have helped her with is her mental health. Since they are on campus and go through many of the same things together, Alemania says that her accountability partners understand some of her struggles better than her friends outside the team.

“I believe it’s different in the sense that it’s more mental talk, because I know personally, I’ve always struggled talking to people about my mental health and feelings and stuff like that, so I’m comfortable talking to her about those things,” Alemania said.

From joining as a freshman in the midst of the pandemic to her several injuries during her time with the Matadors, every hurdle that Alemania and her partner overcame brought them closer together. The bond each year starts when they welcome the freshmen, and according to Alemania, develops into a friendship that transcends the game of softball.

“I feel like these friendships that we build are going to be lifelong friendships,” Alemania said. “I am still friends with people who have already graduated. I still talk to them, we still keep in touch. They always check in on me and on how I’m doing, and I feel like our accountability partners right now, we have that bond together which I feel like is going to go beyond softball, beyond college. Once we’ve graduated we’re still going to keep in touch.”