Saturday, February 27, 2010

Whose side are we on, anyway?

(Team mates face off on the court)

Life races by at such a frantic pace.

Events that garnered attention only a few hours ago are quickly trumped by the red-hot event of the moment. I’ve been trying (for days) to write about the blizzard that blew through last weekend and I guess I’ll eventually get to it, but the basketball games of this weekend have edged their way to the top of the queue.

Last night, after a rip-roaring evening of high school basketball, I walked home under a (long awaited) crystal-clear sky. Bright white moonlight splashed right through the big dipper over my head onto every snow-covered rooftop in the village. Smoke stacks billowed their hot breath into an easterly wind. My face was cold, really cold, but my head was full of thoughts that left me feeling warm inside, almost down to my toes.

There is something mysterious, maybe even beautiful, about basketball in a bush village. The fact that it exists at all is a kind of miracle because it is impractical and unpredictable on almost every level. The unexpected is often the only thing you can expect with any certainty. This weekend the scoreboard clock ceased to function during the third quarter of a game, so the person running the clock had to use a stopwatch and announce the time on a microphone....and nobody complained! Referees and coaches tried to keep the players on track and aware of game time, but once I overheard a player respond to a whistle by running up to her coach and asking, "Is that the end of the game?"

Unlike small towns on the road system, games between bush village schools require flights. That’s expensive (really expensive). So games are few and home games are fewer. Opportunities for parents and community members to actually see their children play are rare and visiting teams usually play without the luxury of fans to cheer them on.

Games always require at least one overnight stay (bad weather may necessitate longer). That means baggage and sleeping bags will adorn the floors of classrooms around the school.

This weekend it meant providing dinner on Friday night, breakfast and lunch on Saturday, and snacks in-between. It takes a lot of work, both paid and voluntary, but anyone who attends one of these events can tell you that the money, time, and effort are all well spent.

Somewhere in the mix of the challenges and inconvenience interesting and sometimes surprising things spring forth. Things like kindness and generosity and respect and ingenuity.

How do you put a price tag on those?

This weekend, the opposing school turned up with a small girl’s team and only two boys. Their boy’s team automatically forfeited due to lack of players and that could have been the end to a very expensive story—but it wasn’t.

Players from our Eagles teams, both boys and girls, willingly donned Qavvik jerseys and made up the difference on the court. And they didn’t stop there. Not only did they wear the other team’s uniforms…the borrowed players put their whole hearts into winning…for the other side.

(beginning the first overtime)

One game went into double overtime and was won in the final five seconds with a single shot by one of our boys wearing the Qavvik’s colors. Spectators enthusiastically cheering for both teams went wild at the buzzer. Fans, players, and coaches all agreed that it was one of the best games they’d ever seen. No one seemed to mind (or even remember) that the credit for the win went to the other team.

It was just fun.

And that makes me smile.

I think it says something about a game, a school, and a community when such cooperativeness can be fostered alongside the drive to win. Of course our teams want to win as much as any other, but sometimes basketball really is about the simple joy of getting to play.


Jackie said...

I really liked this post...made me feel warm too. It was nice to hear this side of the story when the cost is what people are usually talking about. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

This post makes me smile as well! Great story. I am glad you told it. Now I await hearing about the blizzard. Ja

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

Wow. That DOES say a lot. And I really like what it says. I wish there were more of that in the lower 48, or, at least, in my school. You are lucky in ways we don't always think of, to be teaching where you are. Where there are a lot of tangible things lacking in teaching there that I probably take for granted, you have a lot of things far less tangible, but far MORE important. Thanks for bring those to our attention! I think they are lucky to have you as a teacher there.

Florida Beach Basics said...

Good story!

Bryan said...

I must admit to being mildly disturbed by this post. I have checked your blog both of the last two days, yet it did not show up till today. :-( But I Loved the story. :-)

Floridacracker said...

Those kids are special.

I can't imagine that happening here, unfortunately.

Bryan said...

To clarify, LOVED the post! I was disturbed that it didn't show up when I checked your blog earlier! I was going to get upset that I wasn't getting my timely dosage of Buggy! :-)

Kimberlee said...

Thank you! It's the most important side of the story. And this game almost didn't happen because of money. I'm so glad there are advocates out there willing to speak up!

I'm glad it made you smile. The blizzard post is a few days away, I'm afraid. :(

Thank you so much! I do feel lucky to work and live in this community. It's easy to get frustrated by the challenges, but experiences like this definitely lift the chin! :)

Florida Beach Basics...

"Dosage of Buggy!" LOL That's so funny! I started the post on Saturday, but didn't get the photos loaded until Monday. Sorry the dates were off. :)

They are special and in the "heat" of regular school it's easy to forget that. I'm glad for the occasional reminders.