Love of a game
It is the end of the school year and things are wrapping up nicely. My students have an understanding of each other that transcends most classrooms. Six different languages are spoken in my class with English being the only real common denominator. We thought we’d celebrate their successes by playing a friendly game of soccer. It would be 7th vs 8th grade students. What the 8th graders make up in brawn the 7th graders make up in quantity. It was a 10 to 8 ratio. Even in this the 8th graders had an advantage. Two of the players were on after school league teams. They were mini Zindanes.
The kids tried coaxing me into playing, but I politely declined showing them my maryjane shoes. The were black flats with a strap that went across the top of my foot. Although they were cute with the capri’s and blouse I was wearing they wouldn’t work on the soccer field.
Then I lived a moment that every sports fan must feel while watching their favorite team. It is a moment where time stands still and you can see yourself in the game, making the perfect move. One of the 8th graders was going by and doing some fancy footwork with the ball. My mind said to me, “Trish you could run alongside him and steal the ball for your 7th graders and then kick it to that one kid that is open across the field.” In a knee jerk reaction I took off running.
The 7th graders were cheering, “Yeah, Mrs. B is playing.” This made the moment richer. Now the play was three feet in front of me. So I changed my postion by making a 90 degree turn. And this is when reality collided with fantasy. Literally.
As I turned my girl shoes lost their grip and instead of running alongside the future professional soccer player I was sliding into a collision course with this ball dribbling speed demon. My feet went under his and did hit the ball, but that wasn’t enough to stop the course of action. My head made contact with the moving person, which hurt like a son of a gun and then I fell to the ground with a thud. The other player had to take giant steps to prevent him from landing on top of me.
From three feet away through his heavy Asian accent the speed demon returned to being my student, “Are you o.k. Mrs. B?” The side of my leg was scraped and screaming and there were grass stains on my cute capris. The girl in me wanted to cry, the teacher remembered that I had to keep it together. It was one of those embarrassing teacher moments that kids love to capture with their cell phones and post on youtube. Lucky for me they too busy playing to be concerned with technology.
So, I stood up to see 18 students staring at me with their mouths agape. What could I say to save this moment. The teacher that wants to make everybody feels like all is good in the world came out, I said, “Hey (fill in with the student’s name) kicked me!” The student I collided with had been having problems kicking and tripping the other students. “(fill in with the student’s name) kicked me!” had been a common statement in our class. We all burst into laughter.
I limped off the field and their game continued and ended in a tie. Regardless of the score we all won that day. The student that would only utter two word phrases in my presence transformed into, much to my dismay, the conversationalist. Another student who had been timid in the class became a powerhouse on the soccer field. And the six languages didn’t matter because we all had a common bond. We lived an hour of a day where the love of a game was the only universal language we needed.