Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Wave your hands in the air if you feel fine, we're gonna take it into overtime. Welcome to the Space Jam!

These past few weekends have been quite busy!!!  Such is the life when you become one of the two chaperones for the school.  If I haven't already explained in past blog posts, part of living out here is that you are enlisted in helping run events that are hosted at your school or you travel to various villages/towns/cities in order for students to compete in sports.

Two weekends ago I went to a neighboring village, and cheered on the Lady Falcons to 1st place during the girls  regionals basketball tournament.   The picture above is our winning picture, complete with qaspeqs (cultural clothing item).   The weekend before that our school hosted the boys tournament which our Fella' Falcons pulled out their own 1st place!

We're part of the Kusko-Delta League, which means we play other 1A tundra villages.  Those teams who play well enough within their own leagues get the chance to compete at the district tournament in Bethel. That tournament is a whole different experience!  Due to the remote location of these villages, athletes and other after-school activity participants must travel various places to compete or go to conferences.  And when I say travel I mean they fly places, stay over night laying on classroom floors, in sleeping bags, and then fly back.  Imagine sleep away camp every other weekend as an athlete and chaperone!  You can guess how exciting and exhausting it can be.  Back to the story of the weekend.  On Wednesday afternoon the boys and girls coaches, athletes, and myself all bundled up and took our gear to the airstrip and flew into Bethel for a 4 day weekend.  Flying with the teams is actually half of the fun of the whole trip.  Little planes are actually more fun and relaxing to me than big planes now.

Wednesday night was mainly getting settled into a person's classroom for the next few days.  We made the "absolutely necessary" trip to the nearest store to stock up on junk food, pop, chips, and energy drinks.  (HEALTHY!  I know!)  Then it was time to practice and get ready for the games on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.    One of the great thing about living out here is the friendships you make with other teachers.  The girls coach, Pat, for that team has become one of my closest friends out here.  Most of the weekend was spent with his team or my girls.  We did lots of hair braiding, magazine gazing, a massive amount teeny amount of grading, and a lot of hanging out.  The hair style picture to your right, is just a taste of the hairstyles we managed to try out during the weekend.

I took this picture before their first big game.  A parent had made each of the girls and me a headband in support of the team.  I must say the headbands are quite the fashion statement out here.  Just look at how awesome we all look?

The girls team lost their first and second games which put us out of the running for placing in the tournament.  It was kind of a bummer, because there are two senior girls on the team who'd been hoping to take it all the way to state, but we managed to have fun the rest of the weekend.  Our boys team lost their first game, but pulled out a win during their second.  That allowed them to play on Championship Day and an unexpected win put them at 5th place. The final teams (Chefornak girls vs. Kipnuk girls/ Tooksook Bay boys vs. Chefornak boys) played in the last two games on Saturday both games were very very exciting to watch... and more so exciting to see the all the villages max out the capacity of the gym to watch the games.  People were watching the games on the bleachers, on stairs, against walls, and even some on the floor of the gym.  The sounds were deafening in the gym and school spirit reigned supreme.  Yours truly even lost her voice by the end of the weekend.  The district winners were the Chefornak girls and the Tooksook Bay boys!  They'll competing in the state finals.  Here is a news article with pictures of the big games!

Saturday night, following the excitement of the games, there was a high school dance for the boys and girls basketball players.  From 11PM -1:30AM the school was "bumping" and I was dancing the night away with a few other chaperones and my players.  Chaperones are actually encouraged to go out and dance, because the kids are less embarrassed to dance if their teachers are already out there making a fool of him or herself.  I wish I had pictures of the chaos and fun that was had, but you'll just have to trust me when I say it was a blast.The next morning was spent overhauling the classroom and making it look the way we found it.  We packed our things and spent 3 hours at the airport waiting on the 4 planes for all of our players and coaches. 

These kinds of weekends are the experiences that I will never forget. No other place I know has adventures like this on a regular basis.  No other elementary teachers spend their weekeends getting their hair done by high school ball players or sleeping on the ground with them.  I truly am blessed to have had this opportunity. 

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