|Go Blue Jays|
It was a busy weekend here in Tunt and the school was full of visitors from 4 other villages. Basketball rules and we hosted the midcoast league tournament (which our boys won and our girls came in second). The effort involved in hosting a sports tournament or any gathering is an intricate dance among discordant elements including students with inconsistent academic habits, the weather, coaches with limited travel resources, administrators with budgets to balance, airlines with scheduling priorities, and many more. Even still, sometimes we manage to pull it off or at least to participate in someone else's successful...or mostly successful choreography.
My role in this tournament was minimal. I don't love basketball, but I do what I can to support the kids in the things they want to do. Raising money is important since there just doesn't seem to be much of it for student activities so I helped out in the student store today during the game, selling concessions. We also made cakes and did cakewalks, which, given how lucrative it turned out to be, really WAS a "cakewalk."
|An Icebreaker...with Lifesavers and Toothpicks|
Travel for sports and other activities is a way to experience other places, not far away, and not very different from where you're coming but just different enough. A small plane or two, a group of student athletes, a good sleeping bag, air bed, and snacks from home will ensure a successful travel experience. I've been coaching volleyball for two years now. The first year, I had a roster of players who really coached themselves and I had inherited a well-practiced team of mostly natural athletes. This was good and bad. I, who knew next to nothing about coaching any sports, nor really much about participating in team sports, since I lack the athletic prowess to do more than walk and chew gum without tripping, had very little teaching to do. I did learn a lot about group dynamics that first season. We didn't win the regional championship, alas. That's another story that I might not tell here.
|See ya at home!|
As a teacher, being cooped up between ones classroom and house in the same village, punctuated by occasional trips to the local store can wear on one after a while. As a coach or...if they need you...a chaperone, you can enjoy the intervillage travel experience. I get to see colleagues and friends in different schools, some I haven't seen in years or only briefly, during the district-wide inservice every August, or over the video conferencing system the district uses to deliver "highly qualified" instruction to schools that may not (probably don't) have teachers certified in various disciplines that students must master, but that is another story.
Accommodations consist of an empty classroom, with all the desks moved into one corner. We spread out our stuff and take our respective corners of the room. Hopefully, snoring or gas are not a problem, given the the close quarters and the diet irregularities typical of the student travel experience. A Thermarest with a slow leak worked for a few years, but I've graduated to an air bed that lets me wake up without the my back and shoulders feeling like a pretzel.
|And we played games too.|
For the students, a trip to another village provides the opportunity to see somewhere else and especially the chance to go to another store, almost exactly like the one in your own village!
|What to do in a new hallway: See how high you can jump|
Oddly enough, this is the first thing everyone wants to do after arriving at the host school, usually before putting our things away and finding out when we're playing our games. A pile of overpriced junk food is what gets them through much of the tournament.
|Waiting at the airport...for the boat.|
Usually the host school has invited a couple of teams and they play a round-robin tournament. Yes, winning is important, but the travel experience is much more so. They play hard and enjoy meeting friends and often family from other villages.
We all eat cafeteria food, hang out, perhaps watch a video someone brought, surf the internet, watch other games, stay up as long as possible, usually playing a continuous pickup game before the lights in the gym go out and they are dragged kicking and screaming to the room to sleep. I might chat with other coaches, for advice or insight and do the things that will hopefully make us a better team. We'll be better next year.
|Pick-up at the airport.|
At the end of the trip, everyone wants to go home on the "second plane". Anything to postpone return to the routine. The word "boring" slips off their tongues easily, even when they probably mean something else.