Whether it be the fun of being a part of a team, doing what you love, or pushing yourself to new levels, playing a sport is a great thing for kids to do.
I recently became an assistant coach for a youth basketball team at Elsinore High School. At first I did it just to get community service hours; but over the course of the season, I have had so much fun at the practices and the games and have made some good friends on the team.
I love that the kids on the team have all come from different backgrounds and have come together to accomplish the same tasks.
There are 10 players in 6th through 8th grader: Luai Assria, number 4; Brayden Berkey, number 3; Damian Fetters, number 5; Deacon Halvorson, number 13; Brandon Heath, number 11; Matthew Hodges, number 14; Paul Horton, number 20; Aaron Lane, number 10; Jeremy Martin, number 12; and Alexis Ramos, number 15.
Over the past few months, these 10 kids have changed my life completely. I have loved getting to watch them grow as basketball players and people over the course of the season.
My dad, Bill Massicot, is the head coach and says: “It’s not all about winning and losing. It is about learning to deal with good times, bad times, and learning how to work as a team.”
Learning how to work as a team is a very important skill for one’s future in school and in life as an adult. Most of the kids started the season as shy, but over the past months they have broken out of their shell and made amazing friendships on the team. They are all funny and are spirited and energetic every time I see them.
I admire how, at every practice and every game, everyone on the team is excited to play basketball and be with their new friends. An example of the team members’ spirit and humor is our team’s name: the Skunk Rats. Deacon Halvorson came up with the name and, as soon as everyone heard it, it stuck with them. Our team picture will even say Skunk Rats across the top.
The league is all a fundraiser for Elsinore High School Basketball, and Elsinore gets their players to help out with the scoring of the games and some of them are the referees for the games every Saturday. I am only a few years older than the kids on the team and just last year I was doing the same thing.
But I am inspired by the way the players go out on the court every week and try their hardest. They are all incredibly supportive of all of their teammates, and if someone messes up and they are feeling bad, the whole team is there comforting them and making them feel better.
I think that youth teams like this are great for kids to be involved in at a young age because they help set up a feeling of camaraderie between the kids. As I said earlier, they all come from different backgrounds, and they bond over the same thing. Everyone has a different day going for them; but when they get to practice, they put that all behind them and try to get better for themselves and their team.
At times, playing a sport can be hard on kids these ages. Kids at that age are under a lot of pressure and feel like losing the game will be all their fault if they miss one shot or mess up for one second. Having supportive teammates like they do helps the kids have a lot more confidence with what they are doing. The players on the bench are constantly cheering for those playing, while they are at the same time itching to get in the game.
I am a very shy person and, going into the season, I was nervous for what these kids were going to think of a person one or two years older than them coaching them. But now I have learned from the kids and gained so much confidence. I think that having a coach at their age level is good for them because I am someone that they can closely relate to and joke around with.
Before and during the games, I am often more nervous than the kids that are actually playing because I not only want to win, but I want them to do well and win for themselves. I think the most exciting part of the games is seeing them use something they were taught at practice and it works.
As this season is coming to the end, I am sad but I am excited to possibly coach next year and to see the great things that come out of these kids.