To the kids at the school where I was a Playworks Coach, being a positive team player wasn’t always the popular thing to do. When I was tasked with coaching the boys basketball team, I learned quickly that I had my work cut out for me.
A majority of the kids had never played organized basketball before, but we had one month to practice before the first game of the season in a developmental league with other Playworks schools, and I was determined. I wanted to show them that playing as a team was the only way to win. Practices consisted of teamwork drills that challenged them to rely on each other, building rapport and trust.
After shaking off their first game nerves, the boys came out eager to show the crowd that they were a force to be reckoned with. For the first time in four years, our boys basketball team started the season off with a victory, winning by 24 points. As the season went on, we encountered different challengers that forced us to work as a team and rely on one another.
I told them from the start, teamwork will make the dream work. Their dream was their school’s first ever Newark Public Schools basketball championship title. We ended the season as one of the final four teams left in the playoffs, with a winning record of 11-3.
Although we lost that semi-final game to the team who went on to earn the title, the kids won in a much bigger way. They learned togetherness, the importance of defending each other, and the gratifying feeling of winning as a team.