A couple of weeks ago, Corby was asked to be part of the long tradition of Peace Corps volunteers in Salacuim to coach the junior high boy's basketball team. Well, they're not really a team but rather 15 kids who want to improve their basketball skills. At the end of March they are headed for the mini olympics in Chisec and they will be competing in soccer, volleyball and basketball. They have soccer down. Most Guatemalans were born kicking a soccer ball and can dribble a tin can down the street without it ever touching the ground. Us northerners find this amazing and usually amuse the people here with our lack of soccer skills. The one thing we do bring to Guatemala is height. When Corby arrived in town, he was by far one of the tallest people they had ever seen. This may be why he was the natural choice to coach the team this year. Lucky for them, Corby did come with the skills as well. Having played basketball all his life, he was eager to start teaching these kids a few things.
By default, I was asked to coach the girls team. Unluckily for them, I had not played basketball all my life. However, I do enjoy the game, I'm tall enough and I can shoot a ball. Here, that's enough to be a coach. The girls really don't get much credit for doing anything athletic. We are still living in the 1950's where they are expected to cook and clean and title 9 has not arrived in Salacuim yet. I reluctantly said yes because I think they deserve a chance to play, but was worried about my ability to teach them how to play.
We started out slowly. Corby has his team on the court at 7am doing layups and working on drills. I was lucky if 4 people showed up by 8:30. We attempted drills and they looked at me like I was crazy. I tried to get them to fight for rebounds and they were not interested. By the end of the first week, we threw all that stuff out the window and just started to play. The girls are tough when they play. They are not much for the fundamentals of the game, but they love playing against each other and they play hard. There hasn't been one practice when someone hasn't left the court bleeding or hasn't gotten hit in the head with the ball.
The boys, on the other hand, are starting to really learn some of the fundamentals and are slowing improving. There are the obvious barriers that they are all working against. Most of them are barely over 5 feet tall, some do not own tennis shoes and show up barefoot and the girls usually come to play in flip flops and skirts. Nevertheless, they are out there practicing as if the NBA draft were coming to town.
Both teams had their first game last week and some of the improvements really came out. They are all still traveling double dribbling, but they are starting to work together. They definitely are the Dream Team of Salacuim.