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There’s sport in politics: College athlete to campaign operative

November 30, 2012 – 4:57 PM

Rachael Goldenberg at campaign HQ










By Rachael Goldenberg

Politics is often spoken about in sports metaphors. This election cycle, however, I found that the comparison not only fits, but is key to being a successful political operative.

Just before graduation I was thrilled to accept a position on a high profile, high-intensity congressional campaign. In the six months since, I have gone from being a student-athlete to a field organizer, from fielding ground balls to handling policy questions — and from leading a team of 20 players to directing 300 volunteers.

Election night brought victory for my candidate, sleep for me, and the chance to breathe and reflect. The lessons and habits I learned as a softball captain, I am convinced, made me a successful field organizer. Here’s why:

Training. Each phone bank, each 10 p.m. reporting call were drills for Election Day. All our massive Organizing Days with 400 volunteers knocking on undecided voters’ doors were scrimmages to hone our recruitment and leadership skills. When Nov. 6th came, we had put in the practice and were ready for Gameday.

Endurance. Softball taught me that even if it’s the last inning, and you are up by 10 runs, you run onto the field. You don’t walk. On Election Day our team knocked on voters’ doors right up until the clock struck 8 p.m. and the polls closed. You don’t let up until it’s over.

Seeing the end goal. During the long summer days it was easy to get lost in the tedious details of running a phone bank or recruiting for a canvass, but athletics taught me to always keep the bigger picture in mind. The details—the well-run phone bank or the two extra volunteers– were what would win it for us.

Pushing past limits. I didn’t think I could be pushed harder than I had been as a collegiate athlete. I was wrong. Forcing myself to keep my technique clean at 5 a.m. practices prepared me for the grueling 4 a.m. data entry sessions. Being pushed hard, in other words, felt familiar.

I had done it before and I could do it again.

  1. One Response to “There’s sport in politics: College athlete to campaign operative”

  2. A great example of the benefits of athletics participation and the development of skills to enhance one’s workplace competitiveness and success!
    Go Rachel!

    By Bridget Belgiovine on Dec 1, 2012

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