Last Friday was an exciting day for Las Chicas Dinámicas de Santoni y Los Nogales! Carly and I decided to bring the two schools together for a volleyball competition so that the girls could practice the skills they have been developing over the past 6 weeks. While drafting our new curriculum that focuses on 4 principal sports, Carly and I thought that having a tournament between the schools every 6 weeks after completing a sports segment would be a great way to motivate our girls to compete! In reality, we had no idea just how competitive they would be!
The week days leading up to the tournament were spent preparing both physically and mentally. We practiced our rotations, serves and communication skills, and we made t-shirts with school names and numbers. The girls could creatively decorate their t-shirts to include motivational phrases, cheers and designs for their teams. Of course the girls loved this activity. They excitedly showed off their shirts, many of them knotting the loose fitting shirts and modeling them, twisting and turning, flipping their hair and, of course, lots of giggling. We also reminded the girls that this was a friendly competition. The idea behind the tournament wasn’t to determine which school was more talented. Instead, it was to bring two schools together to interact, make friends and learn from each other.
The prep work was done and the girls were ready to compete! Carly and I picked up the chicas at Santoni and brought them to Los Nogales. They entered the school doors skipping and singing the popular song “Taxi.” The two schools shyly greeted each other, snacks were given out and they began their warm-up. Leaders from both of the schools worked together to organize the group of 35 for jogging and stretches.
When it was finally game time, at least half of the girls slowly approached me to tell me how nervous they were. I had the feeling that this was the first time most of them had ever participated in an organized competition. After the first point of the match, Carly and I audibly gasped and looked at each other from across the court. We had never seen the girls move their feet and communicate so well! Right off the bat, both teams were scrambling to pop up balls that we would have considered impossible just a few days before. The side of the court was lined with girls cheering for each of their teams so loud that Carly and I could barely hear each other from 10 yards apart! The enthusiasm continued, the cheers got more inventive and the girls got more and more competitive. We saw a side of them that we had never seen in practice. It was exciting to see the fire in their eyes and they challenged themselves for every single point.
Each school won 2 games and we decided that an embate (tie) would be the best way to leave it. Each team slapped hands with the other and said bien hecho (good game). As exciting as it was to watch the girls compete, they did not mingle or interact much at all with their opposition. After some discussion, we have decided that after our next sports segment (6 weeks of ultimate frisbee!) we will once again bring the schools together, only this time we will create mixed teams with girls from each school. We hope that this will once again bring out their enthusiastic and competitive drive while also giving them the opportunity to form new friendships!