Playing Basketball 

Yesterday, I went to visit my former students and work family at the K-8 school where I had been for 7 or 8 years. Whenever I walk in those doors, it’s like going back home. This was the school I loved (and still do) for so long. Some of my coworkers are like brothers and sisters; the students feel more like nieces and nephews, having seen them grow in some cases from 3 feet to 6 feet. A lot of the parents also feel like family, especially those I have grown close to over the years. 

A few weeks ago, a former student reached out to me and said that the boys’ basketball team was doing very well this season. Two years ago, I helped establish the team. At the time, the county was bringing back the program after a hiatus. During the break, a lot had happened. We had split from the Montessori school and got our own building, so we were now two separate teams. In the French immersion school, the main sport among teachers was soccer. The kids needed a coach. 

Having played a little myself, I always participated in, and enjoyed, the staff vs. students games. One day after English class, a couple of eighth grade boys came up to me and asked me to coach them. 

I was a little thrown off at the prospect of coaching, especially with the limited experience I had as a player. On top of that, I was hesitant about coaching boys. I was never a boy. I don’t have sons. The boys assured me they had asked other teachers, and nobody else could, would, or knew how to do it. I followed up and confirmed this with our Athletic Director. I decided to try it. 

I was horrible. I had so much fun working with students outside of class, but I won’t lie. Coaching is totally different than teaching. While drills and practices were pretty cool, I had no clue what I was doing at game time. Often my anxiety would go through the roof. I won’t go into all the gory details, but let’s just say middle school basketball games are fun…when you’re winning. I did everything I could to make sure that players gave it their all and kept a positive attitude, win or lose. However, the pressure as a coach was intense. There were some parents who stepped up to lend their expertise, and for that I am very grateful. 

Still, it was very tough. The phrase “blood, sweat, and tears” is an understatement. Again, I won’t go into gory details, but if you’re thinking about coaching and really want to know, I’d be more than happy to tell you. Despite all of the hard times, and there were many, I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to work with these amazing young people and get to know them outside of the classroom. Would I do it again? Never as a head coach. Maybe as an assistant. For two year olds. Maybe. 

What I do love is being able to go back and watch these seeds sprout and blossom. Now, the sixth graders whom I coached two seasons ago are the leaders of the team. They have grown in height and maturity, and it made me so proud to see them do their thing last night.  Watching the girls’ game in particular moved me, because I remember how, every opportunity I had, I would go down to their PE class on my planning period and work with them. There were 2 or 3 who had experience, but most of them had never played on a team at that point. We practiced and scrimmaged all the time. Now those same girls are about to go to high school. Hopefully they continue playing there. 

Tl;dr: basketball is fun, unless you’re the coach and you don’t know what you’re doing. Even then, it’s sorta fun…

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