State University of New York New Paltz
At midnight on August 24th, Cori Fain and I anxiously stood at the airport awaiting the arrival of Elliott Couch and Samson Tan, two lacrosse coaches from America, in anticipation for a week of —well, we had no idea.
|ETA Kelly Case with her students and Lacrosse the World representatives Elliott Couch and Samson Tan|
Around 1:00 am, after 40 hours of travel, the coaches stumbled through immigration carrying four duffle bags filled with metal rods, funny looking plastic nets and a slew of hard, rubber balls. As we strategically piled the equipment and coaches into our car, we dropped the bomb that we had another 3 hours of travel to our tiny town in the mountains. It was in that moment that I knew it was going to be a sensational week. They didn’t complain or ask to sleep in, and their energy was something only comparable to a five-year-old at a birthday party; in fact, they were the ones knocking on my door before I was ready to go to school the next morning.
My students will hate lacrosse—”Miss, too hot lah, miss, this game too hard”—or they just won’t come.
Elliott and Samson are going to be culturally insensitive and offend my students and teachers.
The luggage will get lost and we will have no equipment and then Miss Kelly will have just brought two random men from America to hang out in Ranau for a week.
My mentor will tell me that school is cancelled August 24th – September 4th for the sultan’s wife’s birthday. I don’t know, literally anything could ruin this project.
|The SMK Mat Salleh lacrosse team|
Bringing lacrosse to my students was important to me for reasons that extend way beyond the game itself. Being a part of teams throughout my elementary, middle and high school years played a major role in making me who I am today and contributed tremendously to my academic and social success, preparing me for college and life outside of my hometown. In my experience, having a team to support you on the field naturally translates to other aspects of life, and that level of support is hard to duplicate through other types of relationships. Watching these bonds form for my students has made me feel like I have given them something monumental, lasting and irreplaceable. Even though they cannot tangibly hold it or see it, I could not be more satisfied with this gift.
|Lacrosse practice at SMK Mat Salleh|
Not only has lacrosse embedded a team culture in my school, but it has also given my students an opportunity to challenge themselves. It took a great amount of courage for students to come out with their peers to try this funny looking game with new English speaking people, but they did it and they excelled at it. Lacrosse is a fundamentally and physically challenging game and by the end of the week they were playing full field scrimmages. They got it and they love it. Since the coaches have left Ranau, we have continued practicing and certainly not by force. I have at least two students everyday that make me “confirm” lacrosse practice for the week. I have students message me about how lacrosse has changed their life, inspired them to want to travel to America to become a coach and has given them “big dreams.” I am ecstatic that the game of lacrosse has instilled a sense of motivation and commitment in my students that I had not seen in them all year.