Coach Vamario Allen awards basketball player Rhishy with the Sportsmanship Award at the Highfields Basketball Awards Ceremony.
When a teenage boy is faced with disappointment, it’s not always easy to keep composure. When you add a history of anger outbursts and problems with authority, you might expect an upsetting outcome.
But when Highfields’ Residential Treatment Program basketball team lost the Michigan Alternative Athletic Association basketball tournament, the boys were the picture of model behavior.
“They were disappointed but they handled it appropriately,” said Matt Rau, one of the boys’ coaches. “They accepted it. They knew they played as hard as they could.”
Though the loss wasn’t what they had hoped for, it provided an opportunity to demonstrate how much the boys have learned at Highfields about self-control, acceptance and sportsmanship.
“I was proud of their reaction,” said Darryl Scott, the manager of operations in Highfields’ Residential Treatment Program. “The coaches did a good job modelling communication and sportsmanship. The boys learned how to have fun while participating in sports, which was our goal. We didn’t win the championship, but we showed the most poise and sportsmanship.”
Darryl and Matt agree that the MAAA provides good opportunities for the boys at Highfields. With the basketball team as the foundation, the boys were able to learn about teamwork, communication and sportsmanship.
“I gained knowledge on how to get far with people,” one of the basketball players said. “It took more than one person to get to the tournament. All of us had to work together and not be selfish.”
The boys’ other coach, Vamario Allen, said the opportunity to be a part of a team is an important part of childhood and adolescence; but before Highfields, many of them were not given that opportunity.
“It helps build their character and gives them a sense of belonging,” he said.
Over the course of the season, the boys were able to work toward acting as a team. They had to travel to other schools, change their routine and learn to communicate effectively with each other. By the tournament, they knew they could count on each other, no matter what happened.
“My favorite part was working together,” Antonio, another basketball player, said. “Being here [at Highfields], we don’t really know each other, so [I liked] having that experience together, getting along and having fun.”
With basketball over, the boys look forward to more sports the MAAA can offer, like softball, flag football and disc golf. These sports and other group activities will help to reinforce the lessons they learned on the basketball team.