Yet the story of the Cubs needs to be told not because of what we did, but because of what they did for us.
Mo’ Motion decided to say thank you to the principal, staff and students at our first rented public school – PS 191. We replaced the backboards over the summer with help from our friends at Zog Sports. I then decided to go into the school to rally a group of grade 3-5 girls to form a club team that may or may not want to play against Mo’ Motion teams on the weekend during our rented gym time. At the very least, they would get regular exercise and be with their friends every week.
A well-known study proved if you do not encourage a girl to engage in rigorous physical activity or sports by the age of 10 or before they hit puberty, you only stand 1 in 10 chance that they will be active as an adult. There were too many athletic-looking girls in this school – in middle school – who were not playing sports. We decided to take a chance on putting the club team in at this school, in hopes it would provide girls the opportunity to have fun, be strong, stay fit and play as a team.
What I did not know at the time was that not one of the 22 girls who showed up – a range from girls who wanted to talk to those who wanted to play – not one of them every played any organized sport. No tennis lessons. No soccer teams. Nothing.
I put them on the line, ran them, took no excuses, ran them again, thinking to myself they’re not going to like this at all. I taught them the basics, along with my temporary assistant. Twenty-two girls showed up the first day, 23 returned the next week.
When asked if they ever watched a basketball game, only two said yes. Most weren’t sure of which direction to run in and they ran with the ball during most of the scrimmage. When asked if they would watch one over the Christmas break as a homework assignment, they all screamed yes.
Over the course of late October-early November, their new Coach Ari and I taught them the basics of the game, we showed them out of bounds lines, a 3-2 zone. Those grade 4 and few grade 5 girls who watched a basketball game and regularly showed up were asked to play against Mo’ Motion’s grade 4 purple team for their opening weekend in January.
Ari and I spent most of our time walking home from practice talking strategy and wondering how nervous the girls may be heading into their first game. I could not make it, so it was up to Ari to lead and protect her Cubs.
On game day while I was in another gym, I looked at my phone and read the final score.
The Cubs beat Motion White 24-10.
Not 8-6. They scored 24 points.
Keep in mind that I’d spent weeks yelling at our leading rebounder to “REBOUND!” She stopped and looked at me after 3 sessions, after chasing down and holding a ball in her hands. “Mo,” she said, “What’s a rebound?”
It’s heart, hustle, effort.
For every shot that went up, the Cubs tracked down five rebounds to our one.
We gave the Cubs a life-changing experience, and they gave us one right back. I wore my Cubs shirt for the entire week and told every Motion team and coach about what they proved. I’ve demanded our kids – boys and girls grades K-8 to “Play like the Cubs.”
Mo’ Motion Purple saw the Cubs come into the gym for week two and they were better prepared, but it was still not enough for the mighty, tall and spirited Cubs. The Cubs beat them, too, but this time only 24-19.
Word got back to me that Motion Purple, “Wasn’t letting anyone push them around this time.”
(Please click through this gallery to see the Cubs working hard in their renovated gym.)