I spent the afternoon at a high school in St. Thomas, watching a basketball tournament full of Grade 5’s and 6’s. I knew I’d love cheering on the girls and boys from the school where I volunteer.
There was a stark difference in results. The girls lost their four games and didn’t make the playoffs. The boys won everything … champions! Both teams had struggled in the regular season so the boys’ explosion of offence and smothering defence were unexpected.
You might think that the contrasting results would produce different behaviour during the games. Think again.
They’re all great kids and it shows up on the court. Male or female, they cheer their teammates’ sweet plays and give them a pat when things go bad. And they’re so intense! Blasting down the court with the ball, going wide around a defender. Coming back furiously to cut off an opponent dreaming of an easy layup. Rolling on the floor clutching at a loose ball. Finding an open teammate with a cool bounce pass. All marvelous.
The best for me was that I couldn’t see any drooping heads when the score was climbing against them. Just keep pressing and enjoy the conversation when you’re on the bench.
When I was growing up I wasn’t on sports teams (except for Grade 9 football, when I never got into a game). These kids have an opportunity that I didn’t give myself. Good for them. They’re learning about jump shots, hand-in-your-face defence … and life.