Zhi Xing | “We Play Basketball Game to Become Better People”Issue date：2019-03-07
At UWC Changshu China, we strive for a sporting culture in which learning from failure as well as success is central. We encourage students to take responsibility for their learning both individually and as teams through sports. We believe sports teach students life lessons and give them the opportunity to create new friendships and overcome challenges, rather than just focusing on wins or losses.
Basketball is one of the athletics Zhi Xing on our campus. With the last Basketball game day of the season passing on 12th of January, 2019, we are dedicating this issue to our basketball stars and their coaches. They share more about what are the benefits and challenges of being part of a team, what the sport taught them and how they learn to live UWC values through sports.
Basketball is one of the athletics Zhi Xing on our campus. With the last Basketball game day of the season passing on 12th of January, 2019, we are dedicating this issue to our basketball stars and their coaches. They share more about what are the benefits and challenges of being part of a team, what the sport taught them and how they learn to live UWC values through sports
In January 2019, the UWC Changshu China boys and girls basketball varsity teams participated in the Basketball League Finals in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province. The boys team got a bronze medal, while the girls team got 4th.
A team is like a family
What makes our Basketball teams different from other schools is that in UWC Changshu China, the relationships between teammates do not end with leaving the court since we are a boarding school and students regard the School as their big family. Rosabella from Bangladesh shares that she "has been playing basketball for years but for the first time the team became family."
For our girls team coach, Paul Montbriand, the team being a family is one of his main coaching philosophies. In order to create this family atmosphere between the teammates, Paul focused on making the girls friends first, and players, second:
"The team was a little disorganized at the beginning， so one of the things we tried to do was having outside team activities, which are not necessarily basketball related. Last year they convinced me to watch “High School Musical” for the first time. (Laughs) Such activities are a way for us to get to know each other."
Another coaching philosophy of the girls team coach is to always give people a chance if they are willing to work hard. This coaching philosophy gives Paul the chance to transform people who have never played basketball into great players. He shares a story from last year, when a couple of girls who never played basketball before came to the trials. Even though they had no experience, they were passionate about the sport and managed to "outhustle" some of the girls who had more experience. Paul gave them the opportunity to let them train together with the varsity team, with the promise that next year they will play in the tournaments, if they work hard and focus on improving their skills. Now, he is proud, that those girls have become an integral part of the team.
What have they learned
Having been in the team for over a year, Beichen Zhang from China reflects on how she has benefitted from being in a basketball team:
"For me, the first thing that basketball taught me is perseverance. There is a quote from Larry Bird, which I relate to a lot: 'Push yourself again and again, don’t give an inch until the final buzzer sounds.' This sentence has greatly inspired me, both on and off the court.
Another skill that I have learned through basketball is adaptability. The games are always very dynamic and the result is always changing, therefore you never know what will happen in the next second. We need to always be alert and focused during the games, in order to be able to adapt to new challenges and situations.
Finally, basketball also taught me the importance of teamwork spirit. Basketball provides me with an opportunity to communicate, interact and co-operate with my peers. At the same time, it gives me a sense of belonging that other sports cannot match. Every time we score a goal, we high five with our teammates to celebrate, and when we defend, we loudly remind our teammates to pay attention to the opponents. In short, we always encourage each other in order to cheer up the spirit and hopefully achieve a victory. After each victory, the relationship between the players will always become much closer."
Matthew Shen is the Assistant Coach of the basketball team. His role is to help players communicate with the coach and to coordinate with the coach and the captain whenever there are issues to be fixed. Even though he agrees that his position is quite challenging, he understands the importance of the team acting as one and of all team members always supporting each other. Matthew shares his thoughts on his experience being part of a team: "It’s so wonderful to be with a team of people who share the same passion and goal. A team’s success and honor are much more meaningful than an individual’s success and honor."
We play the game to become better people
When Jessiah Mellott, the boys Basketball team coach and an English teacher, considers the influence basketball has on him and his players, he looks well beyond the court:
"We play the game to become better people. Putting a rubber ball through a metal hoop means nothing. Working together, pushing yourself, competing, and learning to handle yourself in victory and defeat is everything."
Paul Montbriand, who is also a Chemistry teacher, relates coaching to teaching Chemistry:
"Being a coach and a teacher goes hand in hand, but being a coach is a different type of teaching. It teaches you how to interact with students and how people learn. It’s not that easy, when you are teaching something like chemistry, to figure out how somebody will learn the material. When coaching players with no experience, going through that progression and starting from the most basic thing really helps me think about my teaching, how I interact with students, and whether I am being as positive as I can be."
Beichen found that through basketball training, she felt more strongly about the meaning and importance of the UWC values.
Personal Challenge: "Every basketball player has different challenges in acquiring different skills. For example, my dribble is much better than my shot. Therefore before and after each training, I will have an individual practice on the key area of the court to improve my shooting skills."
International and intercultural understanding: "Since we are in UWC, our team members are very diverse, coming from different countries, speaking different languages, in the game, there are always a few moments when the players will naturally shout in their own native language, which no one else can understand. In order to make communications more effective, we have developed the habit of communicating only in English on the field through constant running-in and training."
Mutual responsibility and respect: "We have about four or five games in a season, and most of them are held in other schools. Therefore we always represent UWC, not just ourselves, so we need to pay more attention to our behavior. We must respect each other's schools and team members in every word and deed. We always keep in mind the spirit of sports and remember that sportsmanship always comes first."
Growth is more important than success
UWC Changshu China’s Athletics Programme constitutes an important part of UWC education experience. The Programme’s mission statement is to unite passionate athletes from different nations and cultures to develop physical wellbeing, self-confidence, tenacity to embrace challenge, team spirit and a strong community. For team sport like basketball, our players grow by being in a team - they learn the importance of teamwork, cooperation, sportsmanship, endurance and perseverance, adopting a good attitude and dealing with failures. They learn to have a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Sports make them stronger physically and mentally. They also learn valuable life lessons and skills that cannot be taught in the classroom which will bring them lifelong benefits.