Neely and Sarah

September 2021 TeamMates of the Month: We Just Talk

Southwest senior Neely and her TeamMate Sarah look like they could be sisters. Ironically, Neely’s being an only child was one of the reasons a Scott Middle School counselor thought she would appreciate having a TeamMate. “It sounded really fun,” says Neely. “My cousins were in a different mentoring program and I thought ‘Huh, maybe I should try this.’” 

Sarah credits many women who were informal mentors to her as motivation to become a mentor four years ago. “I feel like part of the reason I have gotten as far as I have is because of the other adults in my life,” she says. 

Although Neely says she felt excited to be matched, she recalls she was also a reserved eighth grader, grieving the loss of some relatives. 

“Maybe you weren’t sure whether you could trust me at first,” offers Sarah. “But we are way past that,” she says, making them both laugh, considering their closeness now.

“You can’t force trust, right? You have to build it,” says Sarah. “And we did.”

Neely was surprised to realize some mutual past experiences, which she found helped her to open up. “She shared stuff about her family and her past with me, so I knew that she’s been through some of the same things as me.”

Both athletes, the pair have discussed balancing sports amongst school, friends, and family. While Sarah was a cheerleader growing up (and now a fitness instructor), Neely is a talented golfer who has competed in tournaments all over the country. 

Neely says golf is just a part of her, and while she loves it, admits it can be stressful. “I’m really hard on myself,” she says. She says Sarah helps her relax by talking through the pressure and offering another perspective. “She’s like, ‘Tell me what happened and I’ll listen and then we’ll digest it.’”

“In all problem solving, we are using her strengths in Neely’s way of living,” says Sarah. 

She finds discussing Neely’s strengths happens organically and naturally rather than always explicitly. They look forward to taking the CliftonStrengths assessments this year, provided by a partnership between TeamMates and Gallup. Whatever Neely’s top five may be, Sarah is confident they will continue to serve her well. “Neely is so organized. She is on top of it. She has goals; she has dreams. She’s motivated and a good human.” 

After graduation, Neely plans to pursue early childhood education and play golf at the collegiate level. Until then, they’ll keep meeting weekly at Southwest, enjoying each other’s company and chatting away. “Have we ever done an activity?” Sarah asks her TeamMate amusingly. “We just talk!”

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