Enthusiasm and Creativity Save the Day
The clouds were dark as rain came down in sheets from the heavens. Sure, it was good for the water-deprived country of Israel, but for a dozen rowdy Sudanese children waiting for David Lasday and his team of coaches in a small classroom at the Bialik School in Tel Aviv, the rain spelled trouble. How would they be able to play basketball?
Our creativity led us to run the practice in a classroom. The coaching staff was comprised of pre-and post-college Americans and Canadians who received their training from David Lasday’s brainchild: the Bring It In – Israel coaching fellowship, which runs sports days for disadvantaged children throughout Israel. Fellows gain the skills to use sports as a vehicle to teach Israel while connecting with different Israeli regions and populations, whether on a beautiful court at a school in the Katamon neighborhood in Jerusalem, a community center in Jaffa, or in this classroom in South Tel Aviv.
With a few claps and a whistle, David and his coaches corralled the students and started practice. Kids were sprinting left and right alongside coaches shouting Hebrew words of encouragement in their thick American accents as the players slid, dribbled, and bounced between the walls. The darkness outside disappeared in that room, as children who had suffered far too much relished the joy of a team experience.
As a coach in the Bring It In – Israel fellowship, I was able to develop a bevy of valuable skills. Of course, I could better teach the game I had loved since I could walk. The fellowship provided numerous training sessions on coaching with some of Israel’s top experts in the field.
But the emotional parts of coaching and teaching proved to be the most important to learn.
From our first meeting, David both preached and practiced the value of enthusiasm. After we had a coaches-only session, David would slap his hands together as his face settled into an accomplished grin.
Yet the experience of working with Israel’s amazingly diverse population delivered some serious obstacles. For instance, when coaching at the Yad B’Yad School in Jerusalem, I needed to coach both Arabic– and Hebrew– speaking students, who could not easily communicate with each other, let alone with the coaches. I quickly learned to count to 10 in Arabic, but that was not enough.
As a few misunderstandings could lead to frustration for everyone, I needed another solution. Using all my enthusiasm, I utilized non-verbal communication, just as David had in our training sessions. I clapped and cheered with every dribble, and demonstrated skills through physical example rather than verbal explanation.
It wasn’t always easy, but through the Bring It In – Israel fellowship, I have seen that, through enthusiasm, creativity, and perseverance in inspiring the future of Israel, its youth, we could truly achieve success. Even in the form of 12 overwhelmingly boisterous kids bouncing balls all over a Bialik School classroom. PT
Gabi P. Remz is currently spending a gap year in Israel where he spends his time studying and volunteering. He will attend Northwestern University in the fall.