CLASSROOM:Scoring points with sportsmanship


Vanguard athletes teach kids the importance of being a team player and a good sport.

September 12, 2006|By Michael Miller

On Thursday, Vanguard University basketball player Brian Roberts stood inside a circle of children at California Elementary School in Costa Mesa. Roberts, a member of the varsity squad, had 15 minutes to drill kids in the finer points of the game — and he started with the most basic one.

"Can anybody tell me what sportsmanship is?" asked Roberts, sporting his Vanguard uniform and tucking the basketball under his arm.

The crowd was silent for a moment, and then third-grader Spencer Sjoberg put up his hand.

"If it's after a game, and the other team loses, you should go up, shake their hand and say, 'Good game,' " offered Spencer, 8.

Other students followed with their own definitions, and then Roberts went into dribbling, shooting and other essentials of basketball. Across the playground, other Vanguard athletes — who had been invited by the school to speak to kids — held workshops on kickball, handball and other sports. Each one, though, began with the same basic question: What is sportsmanship?


"It's a good way to start the year on a positive, strict note," said Principal Kelli Smith, who opens each year at California by running students through the campus rules.

On Thursday, children at California began the day by watching a video in the multipurpose room before heading outside. The video, produced last year, featured a series of sketches showing the right and wrong ways to behave on campus. In a humorous twist, Smith got children to act out the positive examples and adults to demonstrate the negatives.

In talking about sportsmanship, the Vanguard players covered a number of points: how to deal with a bad referee call, how to put losing into perspective and how to ignore taunts from the other team. A few students said they had put up with on-field baiting in the past, but had learned to deal with it.

"Normally, I'll just ignore them and go play another game," said Tanith Kime, 10.

Many of the Vanguard players had never coached kids before, and some found it a novel experience. Melissa Cook, a member of the basketball team, found herself teaching students how to play "spider," a game in which four players dart around the edges of a painted square while another player hovers in the center and tries to tag them.

Dustin Jones, a baseball star at Vanguard, got picked to lead the students in handball.

"We're cool to them, so it's pretty easy," he said.

  • IN THE CLASSROOM is a weekly feature in which Daily Pilot education writer Michael Miller visits a campus in the Newport-Mesa area and writes about his experience.

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