Thinking back on my high school days, the one memory that stands out above the rest is the field trip my art class took to Washington, DC. We went to art museums and even saw a play. It was so much fun. I’ll never forget Mrs. Clary and taking the train from VT to Washington, DC. Had I not taken that trip, would my memory of art class and all that I learned be so mentally tangible? I think not. Experiential learning triggers the mind in unique ways.
Today, my basketball team is spending the night in my school’s student center and theater. We’re staying up all night playing video games, watching basketball movies, eating pizza, and enjoying each other’s company. The boys are having a blast already. One player said, “I’ll never forget this team and what I learned. Even if I play on a different team next year, I will never forget everything I learned this year.” Wow! I didn’t realize the power of the family spirit I attempted to foster within my team. Not only did they grow and develop as a basketball team throughout the season, but they grew as a community and team too. While we had our ups and downs throughout the season, each and every consecutive game was our best game of the season. Our trajectory was up and to the right throughout the winter season. Each and every player made progress from November to the end of February. Although the boys love playing basketball, it was the other special bonding experiences we did throughout the season that they will never forget and treasure forever.
In January, I noticed that our boys were playing with a lot of fear. They were afraid when they got the ball and either passed it away or had it stolen from them. They didn’t trust their basketball instincts. So, to help break my players of their fear, I took them away from the court. We went outside to play kickball on the ice covered lake in our backyard on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. The boys had so much fun slipping and sliding across the ice as they chased balls and ran the bases. At the end, I brought it back full circle as I asked them, “Did we fall into the lake? No, we faced our fears. It’s scary to think that the ice could break at any minute and then we would fall into freezing cold water. But we didn’t fall in. So, remember this in our next game. Play with no fear.” In our next game, they played fearless. It was awesome.
Then, at the end of our season, to bring everything together for my team, I took them on a trip to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. They had so much fun learning about the history of the sport they love. I couldn’t get them to leave because they were having a blast playing knockout on the court with the old peach basket.
These are the memories they will treasure. Yes, they’ll remember our games and what they learned about the sport of basketball, but in 10-20 years, when they reflect on their time on the Reserve Basketball Team, they’ll remember our trip to the Hall of Fame where they played knockout with their friends or the sleepover where they stayed up all night long playing with their teammates. It’s these tangible memories that they will carry with them in their long term memory forever. Students that were on my team a few years ago, still come back and reminisce about our fun trip, sleepover, and kickball on ice game. They loved those times and will carry the memories with them forever.