There’s No I in Team

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They’re playing basketball. We love that basketball.
-Lil Bow Wow

I share Lil Bow Wow’s excitement and I was thrilled to begin our basketball unit last week. Unlike volleyball, basketball is a new sport for many of the chicas and thus presents many challenges, but also many opportunities for growth. Their faces light up when they make a successful basket or win the dribbling knockout game, but I also observed their frustration grow as they struggled to shoot properly, dribble in a straight line, or felt down on themselves for not completing the drill. Profe Kyla and I encouraged them by celebrating their small successes and reminded them that their skills will only improve over the course of the unit.

Watching some girls catch on rapidly and also watching as some other girls struggled with this new sport reminds me a lot of my own basketball experience. I began playing basketball when I was five years old. My dad was my coach for most of my elementary years and I was pretty good! I played the guard position, sometimes even the post, and by middle school I was one of the leading scorers on my team.

I entered a whole new level of competition in high school. I was no longer one of the tallest girls on my team, in fact I was one of the shortest, and I was no longer one of the best. My senior year of high school basketball, I played on the Varsity team, but I sat on the bench for the majority of the season. This was an extremely frustrating experience. It was my last year and I wanted my hard work and effort to be rewarded, but there were many talented players on our team (who mostly went on to play D1 basketball) and my coach wanted to win.

I followed through with my commitment to my team

I showed up to practice everyday with a positive attitude, participated in the drills, and tried to be the best teammate I could be. I challenged my teammates to play better and I channeled my frustration into motivation to improve. My team ended up winning the state championship that year and even though I only played a few minutes in the championship game, I felt the same joy and excitement as if I had played its entirety because we had accomplished this together. While my playing time was out of my control, my attitude and effort were not, and that made all the difference.

I hope that throughout this unit, all of the girls’ skills improve and they feel more confident

I also hope to teach them the importance of a positive attitude and to continue working hard even when you may be disheartened. I hope to instill in them the importance of supporting teammates. Sometimes you may not be the star on the court, but being able to celebrate the team’s success and being there for one another on and off the court is just as important.

I was thrilled this week to already observe the chicas supporting one another as teammates. At Virgen del Rosario we offer our class for 3rd-6th graders. In class, we challenged the chicas to a relay race where every girl needed to dribble down the court and return in less than a minute. It was clear that there was a variety of skill levels, and many younger girls struggled more with this drill than others. Immediately, when we said “go,” both Mel, one of the younger girls, and Carla, the oldest and one of the most athletic, started cheering on all of their teammates. It was contagious and soon the whole line was cheering on one another causing each girl to go faster and faster. Needless to say, they successfully compelted the team challenge.

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.-Michael Jordan

While it can be frustrating to not be the best, learning how to be a supportive teammate is often just as valuable and will help make the whole group better.

-Rachel

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