October 30, 2015
VIDEO: Hillsmere ES Student Makes A Great Catch
When PE teachers Allyson Sabia and Ryshelle Weaver decided to attend a cricket demonstration, they did not realize this would be a game changer for them. The opportunity arose in August 2015 at the Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) Professional Development Day at Old Mill High School in Millersville, Maryland. Jamie Harrison of the USYCA introduced cricket to the PE teachers and distributed free cricket sets to the group. Sham Chotoo of the Maryland Youth Cricket Association (MYCA) and Bowie Boys and Girls Club (BBGC) conducted the cricket demonstration. Sham also told the group of the tremendous success of the BEST Cricket League in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and the planned expansion of the cricket league to AACPS elementary schools.
Ms. Sabia and Ms. Weaver both thought cricket looked like a fun sport and wanted to introduce it to their students at Tyler Heights Elementary School. Tyler Heights is a Title I school with the majority of its students coming from low income families. As a result, the students do not have many opportunities to participate in team sports and therefore miss out on all the associated benefits of being on a sports team. Ms. Weaver and Ms. Sabia thought that the BEST Cricket League could make a difference for the kids at Tyler Heights so they invited Coach Sham to introduce cricket to their students. Ms. Sabia also teaches at Hillsmere and wanted to start cricket there as well.
During the third week of October, Coach Sham demonstrated cricket at both schools. With 1-hour PE sessions at Tyler Heights, Coach Sham was able to explain the basics of the game and do a cricket match with the students in one session. During a match, one boy, Jamare, who never played cricket before, scored 16 runs off 3 balls (6, 4, 6), which was very impressive. All the students at Tyler Heights are now hooked on cricket. The next day they continued talking about their new sport. When Coach Sham arrived at Tyler Heights on the third day to do cricket with a different group of kids, a teacher commented in passing in the hallway, “The kids are all waiting for you and are so excited to learn about cricket.” All the students at Tyler Heights now want to join the school cricket team.
The students at Hillsmere were just as eager to learn about cricket. They were even more excited to join the school cricket team when they heard that they would be making history by being the first set of students from Hillsmere to play cricket in the first elementary school cricket league in the USA. One boy, Max, said, “I think I finally found my sport.” Another boy new to cricket, Naasir, shocked and amazed Coach Sham by bowling three consecutive balls perfectly on his first attempt. The girls also did well. One girl in particular, Maggie, immediately got the hang of bowling, and the other players could not hit her deliveries. At Hillsmere the PE sessions are 30 minutes long, so many students were very disappointed when they did not get a chance to bat or bowl during the introductory session. Mrs. Laura Diberardinis, the other PE teacher, assured the students that she will continue doing cricket with them now that she understands the game.
Mr. Jesse Mitchell, principal at Hillsmere, said, “Thanks again to Sham, Ms. Diberardinis, and Ms. Sabia for a great week of cricket! The kids really loved this! I was very impressed by the genuine enthusiasm our kids had for what was an unfamiliar sport. It was very clear that our students had a great time, and it would be great to explore how we could continue having cricket in some sort of capacity here!”
Cricket will thrive at Tyler Heights and Hillsmere because of Ms. Weaver, Ms. Sabia, and Mrs. Diberardinis. They all now know basic rules of the game and how to introduce it to their students. And, they have seen first-hand how their students reacted so positively to the game. Ms. Weaver and Ms. Sabia are looking forward to coaching their teams in the spring 2016 BEST Cricket League tournament.