SCORES Kicks Off Upcoming Season with Team Retreat

Last week, SCORES staff came together for the annual team office retreat. This time serves as an excellent way to debrief before the school year begins, connect with team members, and explore our organizational “culture” – the ways we behave, think, and believe as a team here at SCORES.

Tuesday, 8/18

The day began with a slideshow presentation of the 2014 – 2015 school year: game days, program events, students busy at work with their writing and soccer. Afterwards, Amy led the group in a morning energizer to get the team up and moving. Working in pairs of “suns” and “moons,” team members formed two circles based on their astronomical body while facing their partner, orbited around each other in opposite directions, and then had find their partner and perform a certain action once the music stopped (i.e., touching elbow to elbow).

After a brief discussion of an effective office feedback model (advice vs. feedback in the workplace), we moved on to individual staff team-builders. Each staff member was responsible for leading a three to five minute team exercise that reflected SCORES curriculum that could also be used with students, staff, and coaches. After each activity, staff could receive feedback on their activity and leadership style.

Interspersed between team-builders and group discussion was the song challenge. Earlier in the week, staff members sent in the song they considered to be their “pump up” song. We had to guess which song belonged to whom, which proved to be moderately difficult on the whole: for example, diverse genre selections ranged from the Sister Sledge hit “We Are Family,” Kayne West’s “Champion,” Modest Mouse’s “Float On,” Blackstar’s* “Respiration,” and Alicia Key’s “Girl on Fire.”

The afternoon’s second group team-builder involved the use of SCORES Moments, written recollections by staff members of memorable events during the year. SCORES Moments were given to groups of three and organized according to the groups’ interpretation of the moment into the SCORES model.

After this brainstorming session, we refueled at Three Happiness Restaurant in nearby Chinatown, followed by a guided painting session at Color Cocktail Factory,* where we were able to paint part of the Chicago skyline!

SCORES staff proudly display their creations at Color Cocktail Factory. 

Thursday, 8/20

          On Thursday morning, Coach Mario ironically warmed the team up with the ‘Silent Game,” in which he acted as though he forgot his materials for his team-building activity. It was actually a communication exercise; he wanted to say who would speak up or ask questions about his behavior or activity.

            The team-building theme for Thursday was “Team Machine.” After Coach Mario’s exercise, we moved into a game of mechanical charades. Breaking into two teams, each team randomly drew a machine (hole puncher, scanner, fan, etc.) and had to physically make the machine using everyone on the team. One person from each group served as the guesser, both waiting in the hallway while their team devised a plan.

Left to right: Aisha, Mario, Brian Bullington, Kari, and Melissa make a hole puncher, while Dean attempts to guess. 

Left to right: Roy (seated), Aiden (seated), Clarese and Amy practice making a rice cooker. 

From there, we moved on to what would be our next group team-building activity, involving the ever-interesting concept of the Rube Goldberg Machine. Named after American cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg, the machine is most typically in several parts and “over-designed,” meant to complete one very simple task with intense complication. Think of turning the newspaper page, but instead using a set of chain reactions to get the job done. Here at SCORES, we strive to work with functionality opposite the Rube Goldberg Machine, but we had fun making our own nonetheless!

Right to left: Kari, Melissa, Mario, and Aisha construct their team machine. 

Left to right: Clarese, Amy, Brian Fisher, Aiden, and Laura construct their team machine. 


Such heated competition worked up our appetites, and the team headed into Pilsen to eat lunch at El Mezquite Taquiera. Afterwards, we stretched our legs at Jefferson Park, flying kites, playing volleyball, tossing the football, and enjoying the last day of a great team retreat.

*Blackstar is a collaboration of rappers Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Common. 

*Check out the Color Cocktail Factory here: