Christmas Break officially started today at WCS. The kids probably would say it began yesterday at 10:31 AM but it isn't a holiday if you have half a day at work. I love teaching and coaching but the Christmas break is perfectly timed. With Thanksgiving, you have to come back and finish up. On January 5, we begin with a clean slate. I like that. Basketball is on hiatus as well. We are 5-8 and I was not sure we would win a game so I am pleased with our progress. We only have seven kids this year and only one eighth grader while playing an eighth grade schedule so there have been growing pains. Only two girls had any experience when we started our games- that's changed!
Our last game before the final exams was ten days ago. We traveled ten miles down 610 to AWTY International School. We car pool with me carrying three girls and my assistant, Kaityln Ballard, driving four. Afternoon traffic in Houston is crazy and we got separated but as we left in plenty of time, I wasn't worried. Let me tell you something about AWTY. It is a very prestigious school with many international students as you might guess from the name. Their campus is amazing and grows every time we play in their gym. They aren't a basketball power but in soccer, AWTY is perennially dominant on the state level among the private schools. It also is not unusual to hear a number of languages spoken while on their campus. Several years ago, their middle school girls' basketball coach coached his team in French. (He told me he was from Louisiana and was semi-fluent as I recall.) We played AWTY in early November and won and did so again last week although both teams played much better than in our first encounter. I was very pleased with our effort and so we entered our down time with a little bit of a glow. It was a nice early present for me.
To be honest, the details of the game are already fading- that's what happens when you do this a very long time! But something has stuck with me during the intervening ten days. The players with me (Ivana, Haley, Caprice) had already entered the gym when I got to the door and as I arrived, AWTY'S high school girls' soccer team was exiting. (I think it was soccer based on the way they were dressed.) So I did what my mom taught me- I held the door for them until the last one had passed. This is what will stay with me long after the game is forgotten: with one exception, a girl who I don't think was paying attention, all of the young ladies said Thank You to me. They didn't know me and yet they expressed gratitude for a small gesture. It mattered to me. No public relations firm could have sold their school any better.
I've been to many schools in my three coaching stops and it's difficult to get past first impressions. When I was a high school coach in Tennessee, we played a very well known school at their place and it still bothers me that the locker room we dressed in that night was filthy. We preach to our kids that their jerseys all have CHRISTIAN on the front and they might be the only detail a stranger will remember about WCS. How we conduct ourselves in public preaches more to an increasingly suspicious world more than any sermon. As humans, we pick up on gestures and expressions, both verbal and non-verbal, and our conclusions are hard to shake. I know none of the students or employees at AWTY but I'm grateful for a small display of gratitude. The parents of these girls deserve praise as well- politeness of adults is mirrored in the behavior of the children who observe. I wish I could be more eloquent this evening in this small tribute but let me just close with one simple word that says it all: thanks.
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