August 12, 2014 | 10:07 AMAt the end of Wednesday afternoon's practice, senior Tristan Steiner led stretches with a small group of Badger football players.
During the stretches, Tristan took on a leadership role and provided encouragement to his peers.
Tristan is one member of the Badger's Player Action Team, which was created after last season to ensure that there's unity on and off the football field at Badger High School.
Matt Hensler, Badger's head coach, said PAT allows the players to help teach the focal points of the program — dedication, work ethic, team work, sacrifice and commitment.
"It was an expansion of our regular program. We obviously teach football, but we are also trying to teach these guys life lessons," Hensler said.
After last season, the football coaches at Badger launched the PAT — a group of team leaders that work with the student athletes and the coaches to ensure team harmony and to expand leadership roles to student-athletes.
After practice on Aug. 6, PAT members Ruben Garcia, Tristan and his twin brother, Trevor, talked about how the group hopes to hold teammates accountable and how that will translate to success on the field.
Ruben said the group doesn't want players to be "glory seekers," but instead wants each player working toward the benefit of the entire squad.
Trevor Steiner said that after last season ended the coaches sent letters to potential candidates for the PAT.
The student-athletes, who received the letters, were asked to write an essay and conducted an interview with the coaches.
"It finds ways to bring us closer together," Garcia, a senior, said.
Tristan said the PAT ensures that positive leadership exists on the team, and its goal is to help eliminate any negative leadership.
The group also bridges the gap between coaches and players.
"It's an extension of the coaching staff and an extension of the kids. It's a leadership group that will help communicatively both ways. Coach to kid and kid back to coach," Hensler said. "But it's also another group of leaders to help us enforce those main program goals: Growing up and becoming young men and being good people."
Trevor said if players have concerns about any of the coaches, for example that the coach is too mean or doesn't provide enough positive reinforcement, the PAT can address that issue with the other coaches.
Trevor said that this will prevent any animosity that the players may have toward the coaches.
Tristan said that twice a week the PAT also selects players to receive the teammate award.
Ruben said the teammate award is given to players who lift up the other players and hustle.
"It's for working hard when the coaches aren't watching," he said.
Hensler said that it's been past practice for the coaches to give players after-practice awards for toughness, attention to detail, hustle and being a good teammate.
However, the PAT members asked if they could give out the teammate award.
"That was dynamite. That was right on," Hensler said.
As for the 2014 season, Trevor said he has heard his share of doubts from former players about how the team will perform this year.
The 2013 team was loaded with seniors, and Trevor and Tristan said they have heard that their team will struggle.
"All of us know that's not true," Trevor said.
The three players said this year the Badgers will perform well on the field, and will "shock" a lot of their doubters.
Hensler said having those students address negativity is an example of the leadership that he is looking for with the PAT.
"I think that's a great example of the type of leadership we are talking about with that group," Hensler said. "It won't be specifically that obstacle that we are tackling every year."
He said battling expectations, people's doubts and players that lack self-confidence has been a challenge that the PAT has been addressing for months.
"That has been a huge focal point of that group. Picking their teammates up and giving them confidence," he said. "They have been fighting that battle since February. That has been one of their main focal points."