Stuck in the Middle: Don’t You, Forget About Me!
The basketball season has just finished at North Saanich. We are very lucky to be able to offer a full slate of teams all coached by NSMS staff. Dave Mark, our Vice-Principal, and I are coaching the grade 6/7 boys team. It is always fun to coach this age group in basketball as they are so keen to learn and improve. We focus on participation, effort and learning the fundamentals that they will need if they want to continue to play basketball into high school.
We have a great group of boys playing on our team this year. Our biggest challenge, literally, is the number of players that show up for every practice and game. We regularly have 43 players at practice and even when we divide into two teams and lose a couple of players on game days to other activities we end up with 18 - 20 players on a team.
At our game last week I had half the team with me at NSMS for two games. We played very well in the first game and then we had a break before our second game. Usually, the team sitting off rests in the stands and watches the other two teams play, but because of the number of kids we have on the team, our players were still itching to play more ball. So I took them outside to the basketball courts and they self-organized into two full court games. The games outside were better than the game in the gym because everyone was involved. As I was supervising and observing the improvement in the players, two boys approached me and told me that they wanted to go into the school.
I told them they could and gave what I thought was very clear instructions, but middle school kids’ interpretation is sometimes a little skewed. My directions were they could grab something healthy to eat and then sit in the bleachers and watch the other game. I came in with the rest of the boys at the end of the third quarter and we all sat in the stands together. As we were watching the game I noticed the two boys walking across the gym. They had huge Cheshire Cat grins on their faces and a large stainless steel bowl of popcorn in their hands.
I met the boys halfway across the gym and we headed out to the atrium for a quick conversation. “Guys, where did you make the popcorn?”
“We went into the Home Ec. room and made it on the stove,” they replied with no understanding that this was not OK.
I still needed more information, “Who let you into the Home Economics room?”
“Nobody it was open. Panorama Recreation Centre has a cooking class going on in the room, so we just walked in and used a stove.” They stated as if this was a completely rational explanation. They, of course, failed to mention the equipment and popcorn they had used without permission let alone the fact that they cooked in the middle of a community class.
I was almost speechless, but managed to say, “Why would you think that was Ok?”
“We were just trying to make a healthy snack for our teammates,” was their sincere reply.
I wanted to be angry. I thought for a second about bringing back Saturday detentions like in the ‘Breakfast Club’ movie, but in the end, a short benching and lecture on safety and boundaries was all I could come up with as a natural consequence.
At North Saanich Middle School you can play on one of our basketball teams and learn skills that will prepare you to play in high school, but instead of implementing Saturday detentions we find other ways to create lasting memories for our students. They don't have to sing us the Simple Minds’ song “Don’t you, forget about me” because it is not likely that I will ever forget about them or their pre-game snack!
PS. That day we won both games, but we still have room for improvement on and off the court!