Monday, February 21, 2011

Healthy Competition

This past Thursday night in J.N. Burnett's gymnasium, two fierce Richmond rivals faced off in the Junior Boys Richmond basketball championships.  The Burnett Breakers and McMath Wildcats had split their 2 earlier match ups, and have developed a spirited rivalry with one another.  Thursday nights championship final lived up to the billing as the two teams went at each other from the outset, with the lead being traded back and forth throughout the closely contested game.

The end result was an overtime victory for the Wildcats, but I think all competitors and fans got a chance to be part of something special that night, and since both teams are moving on to next week's Vancouver and District tournament, there is a pretty good chance they will meet again.  That is something that we can all look forward to.

A special thanks goes out to all the players who put on a great show, and also to the coaches of the two teams.  Both are young men in their early twenties, former Richmond school district students, now volunteering and giving back to young people in ways they were helped while in school.  They seemed to relate well to the students in their care, and are impassioned basketball coaches doing good things for kids.  As written by Aaron Akune in his most recent blog post, "Opportunity", these coaches have created an interest level for these students in what they are doing that has them dialed in and learning so much about life.  They are learning to work together, how to overcome obstacles, to commit to something and throw tremendous amounts of energy toward it and so many other important lessons, regardless of the result of the game.  These experiences will last a lifetime for these students, and are among the most powerful learning lessons of their time in school.

It was a great event, as the gym was full and though tensions ran high, the contest was highly entertaining, passionately contested, and something the students, parents, school staffs and spectators can be proud to have been part of.  It summarized so much of what is great about school sports, and why those of us fortunate enough to have been involved in similar experiences in our high school days still look back on them with fondness.  Chris Kennedy has also recently written about what it means to participate in high-school athletics in his post "The Value of School Sports" and stated,
"So many of the qualities of a full and meaningful life are honed on a soccer field, in a gymnasium, or in the pool.  The passion that drives you to compete and better yourself.  The discipline that forces you to maintain a schedule and balance your life.  The selflessness that epitomizes being a great team player.  The respect you develop for each other, teammates, opponents and the games you play.  The perspective and resilience you find by realizing life goes on, even after a big loss, and winning and losing is not only about the score in the game.  The courage you show to triumph over adversity, and the leadership which defines special athletes whose greatest accomplishments are not only about making themselves better, but raising the level of all those around them." 

This is exactly what I witnessed Thursday night, and in so many other venues like Drama productions, Music concerts and other extra-curricular endeavours.  These are the most memorable things students can experience during their time in school.

Special thanks also go out to the spectators who cheered passionately for their teams, but in a respectful and well-mannered way.  As an administrator for one of the schools involved in the event, I was disappointed for the students from our school who appeared devastated by the loss, but I was more than proud of the event in its entirety.  As Gino Bondi wrote about in his post "Isopraxism and Basketball", it was something special to observe the community coming together to celebrate the efforts of students in these two schools.  Wins and losses aside, the galvanizing effect of people bonding in support of students in any extra-curricular endeavour is extremely rewarding to witness.

It was truly an inspiring night, and one that left me feeling very good about what goes on in our schools in ALL extra-curricular pursuits.  I would like to say congratulations and thank you to both teams and coaches, and to all parents and volunteer supporters for all you do in your roles supporting young peoples lives.

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