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Monday, February 11, 2013

Power of Choice at Thomson Elementary part II: Communication, the name of the game

This winter, DC SCORES intern Molly Fessler is spending time with the Thomson Tigers during the Power of Choice health and nutrition season. Each week, Molly is reporting on the activities the Tigers take part in as part of the winter curriculum and the progress the elementary school students make in learning how to take care of themselves and eat healthy. View a full gallery of pictures from Thomson on the DC SCORES Flickr page. 

By Molly Fessler
DC SCORES intern

“You have to keep contact, the contact is the most important!” Esmeralda C. shouts out to her teammates, encouraging them from the bleachers where she waits her turn to scrimmage.

Then she turns to me, explaining, “We always have to communicate and pass. You have to have contact with your team.”

For today’s Power of Choice Winter SCORES session, communication is the name of the (soccer) game.

For our first exercise, coaches Anna and Marco have the Thomson Tigers line up for jogging around the gym. This allows the team not just to start moving, but also to practice listening skills. As we run, the coaches remind us to keep ears and eyes open to observe the movements of our teammates. Eva and I pair up and circle, side by side, around the gym.

“Wow,” I huff, not halfway through and already winded, “this is exhausting.”

Eva looks at up at me, concerned. “We haven’t even started stair runs yet!”

It’s a tough warmup.

Luckily, after finishing our last set of stairs, the Thomson Tigers have a chance to further practice their powers of communication, without talking.

Facing one another, the team forms two lines near the net. Daniel C. takes a spot in the goal. Coach Marco instructs the Tigers to hold hands with one another — he takes the hands of the two teammates last in line.

Just like ‘telephone’, Coach Marco starts the message chain by sending out a squeeze — this is passed down the line until it reaches the two Tigers at the front. If you’re at the front and feel the squeeze, head for the ball! Everyone takes turns at the front of the line, participating in a quick pass back and forth to practice dribbling, before shooting into the goal.

Johnny M. expounds on the importance of understanding multiple forms of dialogue between teammates.

“If you don’t communicate, your own teammates might hit each other or hurt each other.”

This is wise advice, and except for a few jostles in line, the Tigers manage to stay injury free, thanks to their consistent interaction with one another.

We end our day with a scrimmage. After talking with Esmeralda, I sit down with Daniel C. Still hazy on the specifics of soccer vocabulary, I ask him to explain the scrimmaging process.

“We have three groups, and they wear different jerseys and they go against each other. They take turns. You have to make sure the ball stays in the lines.”

I thank Daniel. The “ball stays in the lines” explanation provides profound insight into my middle school PE grades. (If only I’d learned how to communicate with my teammates...)

Watching from the bleachers, those waiting to take a turn start to encourage their fellow Tigers on the field.

“Let’s go white team!”


Then Jennifer G. reminds us of something.

“Guys, they’re ALL our team!”

With that, the cheers change to “Let’s go Tigers!” and the Thomson team proves, yet again, that they’re committed to being ready to play come spring.

After all, if you’re a team that supports and listens to one another, as the Tigers are learning to be, maybe it doesn’t matter if you stay in the lines all the time.

“When we practice we get better,” Esmeralda C. says.

The Thomson Tigers are well on their way.

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