It has been known for a long time that there is a direct correlation between a student’s participation in extracurricular activities and their eventual success at post-secondary educational institutes and their careers. Students who participate in activity programs tend to have higher grade-point averages, better attendance records, lower dropout rates and fewer discipline problems than students generally. The idea of the “dumb jock” is just that and not based on reality.
Through participation in extracurricular programs, students learn teamwork, sportsmanship, winning and losing, the rewards of hard work, self-discipline, build self-confidence, and develop skills to handle competitive situations. These are qualities the public expects schools to produce in students so they become responsible adults and productive citizen
Studies done since the 1980’s have continued to show the benefits of an extracurricular program has had on the success of a school to produce graduates that were successful in life.
Last week I had the privilege to watch a school taking its first steps to provide its students an expanded extracurricular program when I watched the Ermineskin Junior High Girls Basketball team play their first game against the girls from Caledonia Park School in Leduc.
First games in basketball are more like watching a tennis match as the ball seems to change procession and direction every few seconds. This is especially true when it is the first game ever for many of the players.
The girls from Ermineskin had a height advantage and throughout the game they were able to out rebound Caledonia, but their skills at shooting the ball have yet to catch up to their rebounding skills. By the end of the first quarter they have managed two points to Caledonia’s ten.
The second quarter was a repeat of the first, however no one could say anything negative about the team’s effort. Two young ladies were of particular interest.
The first is the team’s point guard. Like most point guards she is the smallest player on the team, but height does not account for the size of the heart within. Lexie is quick and feisty. She sees the floor and is more than willing to feed her teammates, which makes her an excellent point guard.
You can tell that she is inexperienced, as she tends, on defense, to envelop the opponent with both her arms. The officials quickly assets her three fouls for holding and her coach subs her out. As Lexie approaches the bench you can see a tear start to slide down her cheek. She is disappointed and feels she has let down her coach and the team. Her coach talks to her telling her what she needs to do to avoid being called for that particular type of foul and tells her she has the ability to be a great point guard. Lexie listens, but she will have to sit for the rest of the first half and part of the third quarter.
When Lexie returns to the game Ermineskin is still having difficulty in making baskets and as the quarter ends they trail 30 to 6.
Lexie plays the final few minutes of the third quarter and you can see she has learned to avoid the type of foul that got her in trouble in the first half. As she gets ready for the forth and final quarter you can see the confidence build within her. She makes some excellent passes and her teammates have found the basket as the team scores the first 3 baskets of the quarter.
Lexie picks up her fourth foul, but this foul is different, it is from trying to take a charge. Lexie expects to be subbed out, but her coach knows that Lexie has learned the lesson of the day and lets her stay in the game. Lexie goes to another level of play. She continues to set up her classmates, but now she has learned to drive to the basket. The game ends with a victory by Caledonia, but Ermineskin has won the forth quarter 12 to 8!
Lexie’s tears have transformed into a huge smile. She has scored four points and numerous assists along with playing great defense. In the past hour she has already learned the value of hard work, self-discipline, is beginning to understand the effect of teamwork, and her self-confidence is growing and the season has just begun.
Her teammate Paris is a forward and plays a power game. She is a good rebounder and not afraid to go inside against bigger players. On defense she tends to lose her opponent, unlike Lexie she does not surround her opponent with her arms, but she forgets to move her feet and her opponent can get around her and she ends up trailing and watching her opponent make layups.
When Paris comes off the court, she is frustrated by her inability to stay with her opponent. Her coach takes her aside and tells her a story by asking her a question. The coach asks her if she was to hide money on the court where would it be? Paris, after some thought, responds by saying on back of the rim. Her coach then says so the rim is like the bank so think of the ball as money and your opponent is going to try and make a deposit in the bank. When you lose your opponent don’t chase them go to the bank and that’s where your opponent will show up!
Paris returns to the game, at first her coach yells bank, when she loses her opponent, but as the game progresses Paris has found the ability to defend her opponent and what had been easy layups were now being contested every time. As her defense improves Paris’s self-confidence improves and she begins to find the basket with her shot.
As the game concludes both Paris and Lexie have made major contributions and they and the team have grown by leaps and bounds as the game progressed.
Ermineskin School is located in Hobbema and serves over 300 students from grades seven to twelve. They will host the 1A Boys Basketball Championships from March 15th to March 17th, 2012.