Sports fans around the country have been filling out brackets and following along with the NCAA basketball tournament, but a group of Mansfield ISD elementary schools are taking part in their own version of March Madness.
Early in the school year, Janet Brockett Elementary School principal, Tamara Liddell, was introduced to the district’s guiding statements for the newly introduced strategic plan Vision 2020. One of the guiding statements states that all students will be involved in at least one extra or co-curricular activity, Liddell immediately had an idea.
"My colleagues and I began talking about how we could support Vision 2020, I threw out starting a basketball league,” Liddell said about the creation of the league. "We started and he had six schools that wanted to be involved. Our children were ecstatic to now have, what they have asked for quite often, basketball."
|The team from Imogene Gideon receives the trophy |
after winning the championship game of the playoffs
In order to give these elementary students the feel of the 'big leagues,' the games are played at James Coble Middle School. Coaches from within the school community volunteer their time to help these young hoop hopefuls hone their skills and prepare for each game.
These games are more than just basketball competition for the students on the team; many of the schools have started a cheerleading club to support the students on game nights, as well on campus. The cheer clubs are responsible for organizing pep rallies for the teams on game day, providing signs and spirit sticks to fans, but most importantly they are there to cheer their team on at the game.
By having so many students involved in various ways, this event is truly bringing the MISD community together. During these games, the stands in the middle school gyms are packed with parents, grandparents, and other students from their campuses.
The students are not only getting to play a sport they love, but also getting to learn teamwork, sportsmanship and also having the opportunity to make new friends. Juelz Harris, an Imogene Gideon fourth grader, is really enjoying this experience.
"We have built a lot of friendships and it has been very fun working with our coaches. It’s my favorite sport, I am glad we get to play now."
For the principals of these campuses, the league isn’t about a trophy or wins and loses. Shanee Charles, Principal at Imogene Gideon Elementary, appreciates what this league is teaching, not only her students, but the school community as a whole.
"I feel like this basketball league has not only given us a stronger sense of community, but also, a stronger sense of school pride. The other students that are not on the team come to school asking who we play this week and if we’ve won the game. Next year we would like to see this program grow to more campuses."