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Merrimack Captains: Do You Have What it Takes?

Mia Ardila

North Andover, MA-Student athletes from Merrimack college shed a light on leadership values and characteristics within their very own men’s basketball and men’s volleyball teams. Four starters from men’s basketball and men’s volleyball explain their team values, goals and leadership skills within the program’s.

The men’s basketball team here at Merrimack is a force to be reckoned with. Almost reaching the midway point of their season, their record stands at seventeen gracious wins and ten losses. This team plans to go the distance and win the NEC for the second year in a row before entering the MAAC in 2024 season. 

Star players, Jordan Derkack and Bryan Etumnu, had a lot to say about leadership, team goals, and how they plan on winning the NEC this year. When asked the core values of our very own men’s basketball squad, Derkack responded “grittiness, toughness and being able to correct each other without crossing a line.” Derkack explained that these core values make each and every practice streamlined, focused and efficient. Answering more about accountability and leadership characteristics, Etumnu says “constructive criticism, compliance to different ideas, and the best leader they can be consistently.” Etumnu and Derkack celebrate and cherish their leaders, keeping peers accountable, working hard together and for each other, as well as executing efficiently. Derkack’s career so far has racked up impressive stats with 701 points to his name, 185 turnovers, and 189 assists. Etumnu, a forward, racked up 120 rebounds, 220 points, and 93 defensive rebounds in his career. Derkack and Etumnu prove their values and efforts on and off the court, Merrimack students look forward to watching these athletes win the NEC yet again. 

Like men’s basketball, men’s volleyball holds a high regard for their leaders. Representing the new program, Logan Whitaker and Tanner Planz filled me in on what core values, characteristics and goals they have for the season. Whitaker goes in depth about the team’s expectations of every player, “Our head coach is very adamant about upholding standards, he’s big on self accountability, when you are doing something wrong you have to hold yourself to that standard… he’s big on a player led program and that comes with high standards on accountability.” 

Planz and Whitaker agree that this young second year program has what it takes to win the NEC. I inquired how leadership could affect these goals and Planz responded, “Coach does most of the leading right now but the goal of the entire season is to develop a player led team. Coach can focus on the skill aspect and players can focus on holding their teammates to a high standard… I want someone that leads by example, always doing the right thing and someone who’s accountable. Know when they make a mistake and how to respond to that.” Whitaker, with season highs of 16 kills and 19.5 points so far, chimes in, “They have to be one of the hardest workers on the team, I think that if your the leader and you aren’t putting the most in work in then the guys aren going to respect you… contradicting yourself is a nonnegotiable for me.”

Merrimack College athletic programs hold high expectations, high standards and ruthless accountability from their players. The work ethic, consistency and integrity of these athletes shed a light on how leadership affects each program regardless of history, timeline or win record. Tune into the next home games for our fellow warriors.