The CRACS Attacks… the Klondike
Guy Giguère.
 Version française
L'inFormateur vol. 4 no. 1, printemps 1998.

In the early ‘70s, still an active thrower, I was a member of a track & field team affiliated to « Les CRACS Attaquent ». Luckily the drug baring the same name was not in use then, otherwise we might have ran into some confusion…

Rest assured, I am not going down memory lane in order to bring back some of my “performances” but, instead, I wish to bring forth a working method that seemed quite natural to our organisation at the time. In fact, in management terms, the whole concept was a bit ahead-of-time : the Semi-autonomous team.

We used to call it : the specialities (natural divisions : runners, jumpers and throwers).

Before being actively competitive, and before facing the real competition – the one with self and self-improvement – we had cross-teams’ events to the points. The goals were both simple and educative : have the younger athletes explore the different specialities, bring them to an optimal development and keep the notion of play in what could be a strenuous training schedule. All had to participate in several events for marks and the team with the highest score would win… that simple.

Our trainers, embarking in such concept,  divided the team in different natural specialities and trusted us in our abilities : help each other, peer motivation, co-coaching and  learn in action. In fact, over and above the basic training sessions and the specialised training clinics, we had to genuinely take part in the development of our training methods : observation, copying (so to better understand the other’s motions), constructive criticisms, weight and stretching peer supervision, nutrition consultations, mental imaging practices, relaxation sessions, viewing films (in bobbins then ) and other qualitative and quantitative surveys.

At each training session, the specialities would work independently. Twice a month we had inter-specialities sessions were we would mingle and learn from all. Not only was I receiving my own training, but this larger overview would teach me more and enhance my comprehension of my own throwing disciplines.

Thus, in cross-teams events, not only would I throw better in my disciplines but I was able to decently participate in four other events and I knew how to give support to other members of our team in order to reach our possible maximum ( quality!).

Now when I hear something about the Semi-autonomous team, I automatically recall the CRACS and the Specialities we had then.

Personally and up-to-now, I was not comfortable with the term “Semi”. There is this half notion to it, like the half-filled, half-empty glass that we all know (in fact, since this glass always keep the same level my guess is that whatever is in it, it’s not drinkable). Anyway, who is pleased with only a 50% result ?

Going through the French dictionary in the “Semi” column I found a “Semis” which I thought was the plural of the others.  Not so, this “Semis” as quite a personality and did, in it’s own way, reconcile me with all others “Semi” : action, way of seeding.

Action, way of seeding autonomy… well, that’s exactly what our trainers did.

What about the Klondike you may wonder? Well, it’s gold, success, the first place, reaching goals, it’s about  quality, it’s about harmony within a group, it’s knowing how to adapt to change, it’s the satisfaction of work well done, it’s… what is your Klondike ?

We may always inquire about :

Did the CRACS constitute a good team ?
Were the CRACS performing ?
Did each of the member enhance his/her own standards ?
Finally, was there gold at those cross-teams events… then afterward, long afterward ?

I’ll let you answer those questions !