I play basketball just about every day at work in one way or another.  Usually all I do is pop into the first gym at the end of sixth period for brief informal pick-up games with seniors in the advanced class.  For them it’s like a ten minute recess before they return to their studies.  For me it’s a few minutes of exercise after either teaching in a classroom or lesson planning at a desk in the teacher’s office.

We usually shoot around a little as we wait for the other students to filter into the gym.  A few interesting observations about this:  First, there is no make-it-take-it.  Just because you make a shot doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get to take another.  A balance is enforced in the shoot around.  For instance, lets say I swish a three-pointer.  Chances are the student will let me take another shot.  If I make it, I’ll probably get to take another.  However, if I make the third one, especially if it’s not a swish, often times it’ll be time for another person to take a shot.  If that student misses their first shot, they are usually given one or two more opportunities to make a basket in order to preserve the balance of shot attempts.

Eventually more students arrive in the gym and we play a loose scrimmage where defense is neglected and a score isn’t kept.

Then there’s basketball club, which I attend two days a week.  Eight boys and four girls participate in basketball club every weekday after school.  Don’t let the word “club” fool you.  These students take basketball seriously.  There are no informal scrimmages with neglected defense.  Instead most of the time is spent on sweat-inducing drills that develop skills, promote teamwork, and build strength and endurance.  Although they technically have a faculty advisor, I have never seen him (or her?) in the gym.  Most of their basketball knowledge appears to be self-taught, but they’ve done their homework.  Besides possessing a keen understanding of intricate drills the students also appear to know fundamental principles of zone-defense, boxing-out, and offensive plays such as the pick-and-roll.

Their focus, drive, and self-discipline is inspiring.  Needless to say I feel like an old man every time I step on the court with them.  With all my basketball playing, my shot has returned.  If we we merely playing H-O-R-S-E, I could compete with the students rather easily.  But the athleticism required for the drills leaves me breathless.  Compounding the problem further is a good twelve year absence from competitive basketball.  Before joining the club I had forgotten what a chess-match every possession is.  Because of my inferior athleticism I have to use trickery that the students pick up on before I even make a move.

But it’s fun!  Honestly!  The kids are funny, kind, and enjoy chatting about the NBA.  I’ve found it’s a great a way for me to connect with the students outside of the classroom.


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