The first week and I’m already behind schedule! This is one of the things about teaching that I found has made my life hard. Like, really hard. There is always more work to be done. And that work always feels like the priority, so everything else takes a backseat. But better late than never, I suppose. Onward & upward.
In keeping with this (actually last) week’s assignment, I thought this would be a good place to recount our girls’ basketball game on Friday. Even though being an assistant coach means more responsibilities and more drain on my already limited time, it provides such a valuable opportunity to connect with the kids outside of the classroom. Plus, the two real coaches are men, so having a regular female presence is probably good all-around. Who else is going to go into the locker room and tell them to hurry up when they’re goofing off instead of getting dressed?
The first thing to know is that the school they played is sort of our unofficial rival. The second thing is that they’re pretty good. The third thing is that we only have 5 girls this year. Total. That means no subs. Ever. And if someone gets hurt or has too many fouls, then we have to automatically forfeit*. Going into the game we were all understandably nervous, but with our 3-0 record I think our hopes were pretty high that we’d manage to be okay.
Then the other team shows up. With 12 girls. The coach tells us, “This is only half our team!” We tell her back, “Half?! It looks like an army!” Our hearts all sink a little bit.
But once the game gets underway, things are going surprising well. Our team holds their ground in the first quarter and neither team scores. Then in the second quarter, one of our girls scores and the doors just open up. Three more successful shots for us, only one for the other team. The game is 8-2 at the half and we were feeling pretty confident.
Then the reality of having no subs against a team that has 7 subs sets in. Our girls start getting tired. They start losing ground. We put up a couple more, but the other team makes two as well, plus a free throw after a shooting foul. It’s 12-7 at the end of the third, the lead just slightly narrowed but with things moving in the wrong direction.
The other team makes another basket and halfway through the fourth quarter things stand at 12-9. Our girls’ nerves start mounting, and with them, a noticeable increase in tension and irritability. One of our girls has a few physical altercations. She gets elbowed and pushed over, has her glasses knocked off shortly after, and ends up in a collision with another girl that leaves them both on the ground at the sidelines. One of our coaches says aloud, “She might not make it through this game.” We’re all holding our breath.
We make another shot, but then something terrible happens. The other team has a beautiful 3 pointer. Respectfully, it’s really just inspired. What can you do?
14-12 with 8 seconds left on the clock and no time outs for our team. We have possession and the other team calls a time out. All we have to do is hold the ball for 8 seconds. That’s all! Unfortunately, there is some sort of issue going on with the people running the scoreboard. They’re not paying attention and the ref is calling out to them, asking if they’re ready to start running the clock. It’s very distracting. Meanwhile, the other ref signals our girl on the sidelines to resume play. This is where things go wrong. Very wrong.
The girl who should be receiving the ball is also distracted by the other ref yelling at the scoreboard people. The girl on the sidelines passes her the ball, but she’s looking the other way and it just bounces off her hand. The other team snatches it up and immediately calls another time out.
So now it’s 14-12 with 5 seconds left on the clock and we’ve lost possession. They’ve got the ball at about half court. Our team is pretty confused and understandably, very nervous. The other team sets up to resume play and, of course, they’re giving it to their best player. The one who made the 3 pointer. She can dribble, she’s fast, and she can shoot better than anyone else on the court. Things are not looking good.
They pass the ball in to her and the clock starts. She takes it towards the basket, weaving right past all of our defense. She puts up the shot at the buzzer and… It somehow hits the back of the rim and miraculously bounces out and away! It’s over! We won!!!
There was a lot of jumping, shrieking, high-fiving, and laughing. In the privacy of the locker room, there was also a fair amount of gloating about how the boys (who are not having a very good season) are gonna be so mad that the girls won another game. Two years ago there was no girls team. There was a PE class of all girls that took two “field trips” to play a couple scrimmages. The boys teased them a fair amount about how they were… uh, not good. How the tables have turned.
What these girls are doing is amazing. 4-0! I’m so impressed and proud of how far they’ve come. Better than that are their attitudes. They’re so positive and they have so much fun. It’s a blessing to be around that kind of energy. No matter how many hours I spent this week writing review packets and midterm exams, the opportunity to share this experience with these girls is something I’m immensely grateful for.
*This may or may not be true. It’s what the other two coaches told our girls, but maybe that was just to scare them. Perhaps they can play down a woman, I’m not actually sure.