“I’m unbeatable,” said J.T. Moore, an eighth-grader and point guard on the team.
“In life, you should be confident like that,” said Mike Coziahr, a teacher at American Dreamer. “It’s how you react if it doesn’t turn out that way (that matters).”
The American Dreamer Falcons went up against the Raw Apples, a team of adult staff members in the district, in a basketball game held at MacArthur High School on Tuesday. Final score was Falcons 43, Raw Apples 42.
Even if they’d lost, said Jihad Young, an eighth-grader, he’d have been OK with it.
“It’s not going to change the way I feel,” he said.
People are also reading…
The adults’ team includes Coziahr and Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Jeff Dase, who had a similar program in his previous district. There, Dase said, adult staffers played against school teams during March Madness as a morale booster and a way to connect with the kids on a casual level.
“It’s a spin-off of when I was in Chicago, we used to do this with students every year,” Dase said. “The staff would play with the students on a team and compete against each other. Sometimes you have spells through the year that just help you get by and it was just an idea that came up and (American Dreamer) was the first (school) to take the challenge.”
With a chuckle, he added, “I’m glad it started off with middle school and not high school.”
The next two games are the Raw Apples vs. the Eisenhower High School girls team, 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, and the Eisenhower boys at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 7. Both games will be played at Eisenhower. Dase said the idea was to synchronize the games with March Madness and he hopes there will be more games next year.
Some of the men had lunch with the American Dreamer boys on Tuesday and while there was plenty of joking around and “trash talking,” it was done with smiles.
“We’re going to beat up on y’all later on today,” joked Marques Stewart, P12 director of teaching and learning for Decatur schools.
“The main thing is sportsmanship,” Dase told the boys. “We have a golden opportunity. There’s going to be an audience out there, so we want to show that we have good sportsmanship. So just have fun, regardless of what happens in the game. We don’t want any hotheads out there. Ultimately, we want to have fun and have a little camaraderie with each other.”
Whether they’re playing a game in front of an audience or going to class during the school day or out in the community on their own time, Dase told them, they represent Decatur Public Schools, and he said he hopes they’ll always remember that younger kids look up to them.
“Sometimes, you can be role models for adults, as well,” Dase said.
PHOTOS: Decatur schools’ adults vs. kids basketball game a lesson in sportsmanship
Contact Valerie Wells at (217) 421-7982. Follow her on Twitter: @modgirlreporter
Get our local education coverage delivered directly to your inbox.