Utility Player (n): A player who is capable of playing competently in any of several positions.

I grew up my entire life as a shortstop.  Although I was able to play other positions if the team needed me to, I was always the shortstop on every team I played on. As a kid, the short stop was usually the position held for the most athletic person on the team. At the time, softball wasn’t my first sport.  When I was 10 years old, I came to softball from track and basketball.  I was extremely athletic and faster than all of my softball teammates, so shortstop was the natural position I gravitated to and learned how to play. I was the “quarterback” in the infield.  I remember when I took my first visit to UCLA as a High School sophomore and I met the current UCLA softball team for the first time and one of the current players asked me, “what position do you play?” I smiled and said “shortstop.” And she along with a couple of the other girls on the team chuckled. With a confused look on my face I said, “what?” and they all looked at me and said “Me too.” These were 3 separate girls on the team; one was the right fielder, one was the first baseman and one was a left fielder. None of them were the current shortstop, but they all grew up playing shortstop their entire life.  That was the first time I realized a common recruiting strategy of elite athletes… coaches would recruit the most athletic well-rounded players, (commonly the shortstop in softball), and they would move them to positions that they needed.  And their player profile on the website would list their position as UTILITY, which means you play multiple positions.

An athlete’s value on a team goes far beyond their technical skills.  A coach, manager or leader might mistakenly only focus on the technical expertise of an individual player and how that relates to their performance and value, but there are so many other roles beyond technical skills a player can play to contribute to the team as a whole.  Not every player brings the same characteristics to a team, and we shouldn’t want them to.  When you have a diverse group of individuals on the team capable of playing multiple roles, the team chemistry is much more effective which contributes to achieving the team’s overall goals.

In sports and in life, the most valuable people on a team are the ones that can do more than one thing well; people that excel and specialize in a few skills and expertise, but can adjust and adapt to certain situations when needed. Utility players are versatile, flexible, and are indispensable. As a utility player you have several responsibilities.  As a utility player, you have to always be learning and growing. Although a utility player’s name might not be in the headlines every day, the utility player deserves a lot of credit for a team’s success. As they separate themselves from the rest of the pack by developing the skills to play multiple positions, their value is immense.  Just like sports calls for a utility player to handle multiple responsibilities and is counted on to play any position, we all play multiple positions in life, and we must be prepared to be the utility player we’re called to be. 

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Blessings and love,

Marti Reed

Marti Reed