September 9, 2015
During the week of August 31, Sham Chotoo of the Bowie Boys & Girls Club and the Maryland Youth Cricket Association visited the Chesapeake Math & IT (CMIT) Academy to teach the students how to play cricket. CMIT Academy is a Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) public charter school in northern Prince George’s County, Maryland, that aims to serve grades 6 through 12 with an academic program focusing on mathematics and information technologies (IT).
The principal, Mr. Gunes, and PE teachers, Ms. Lawrence and Mr. Snyder, were all eager to get a cricket program started at CMIT to give their students another opportunity to be active and participate in a school sport. Ms. Lawrence played softball in college but did not know much about cricket. After learning along with the kids, she found cricket to be fast-paced, fun and exciting. Ms. Lawrence encouraged her students to keep an open mind about cricket since most of them were new to the sport as well.
Cricket demonstrations were done with more than 400 students in grades 6-11 outdoors on an asphalt surface. Coach Sham and Ms. Lawrence endured up to 5 hours straight of hot humid 90 degree weather to do cricket with the kids. Two cricket sets were donated to CMIT by the United States Youth Cricket Association: one for the middle school kids and one for the high-school kids.
During each PE session, Coach Sham first told the kids about the Washington Area Middle School (WAMS) Cricket League, which is the first middle school cricket league in the USA. The WAMS Cricket League was started in 2015 with four schools: Kenmoor, Buck Lodge, Benjamin Tasker, and Samuel Ogle. All the principals, teachers, parents, and kids thoroughly enjoyed the WAMS Cricket League. The TAG Coordinator at Kenmoor, Ms. Novick, said, “I think cricket was one of my favorite events this year. Thank you for including us in the league. We look forward to another great season. Enjoy the time off. You guys are amongst the hardest working people I know.”
Coach Sham also explained the basics of cricket to the kids: how to hold the bat, how to bowl the ball, how to score runs and how to get someone out. Next, the kids took turn batting while Coach Sham bowled to them after Ms Lawrence got them in the proper batting stance. Some kids also tried bowling, and a few got the hang of bowling from the very first ball they ever bowled in their life. Most of the 6th and 7th graders were eager to try and had fun learning. Some of the 8th graders and high-schoolers gave the impression that they were too cool for cricket. But, when they gave it a try, they actually enjoyed it as huge smiles appeared on their faces while playing.
The highlight of the week for Coach Sham was on Thursday morning upon arriving at CMIT in the middle of an 8th grade PE session. Some kids were playing basketball and some kids were playing cricket on their own. At the start of that session, Ms Lawrence told the kids that they can play whatever sport they want. Some 8th graders chose cricket. They were bowling well, hitting the ball well, and running between wickets well. Coach Sham was shocked and very happy to see this because these were the same 8th graders who did not seem that interested in cricket the day before. Coach Sham said to himself, “Man, … they were actually listening.”
In spring 2016, CMIT Academy will have at least one team participating in the WAMS Cricket League. After each PE session many of the kids said that they want to play cricket for CMIT. Many of them were also encouraging their friends to join as well. The kids who participate in 2016 will be making history by being the first set of kids from CMIT Academy to participate in the first middle school cricket league in the nation.