I have spent the past year taking Year Eight sport. There are various reasons, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that I like my sport organised, and I've spent a year shaping the ninety odd boys that are forced to partake in the free mandatory physical activity into exactly how I want them, and I'm not starting afresh each time a new term rolls around.
Because of the number of kids, and the crappy help I have in running the sport, they can be a bit of a challenge. Year 8 kids are just starting to develop and attitude, and when they're running about, their testosterone is at its highest, and I'm frequently reminding the 'bros' that we can only play hands off sport, that they should put their shirts back on, and reminding the non-willing participants that it's not about being the best, it's about being your best.
We're quite limited in the sports that we can present to the kids too, and I tend to fall back on the basics (soccer, touch football, ultimate frisbee) because they're easy to manage and I know the rules. It's been a year though, and the kids are starting to get bored, and where previously I could run a game of Dodgeball to get them all back on track, we've been stuck on the far oval in the reserve next door this term, and without walls, it's just too hard to keep track of the balls.
This week though, I was proactive, and decided that it was time I find something different. I searched the storeroom, and there, staring back at me, was a bin of softcross equipment. Now, softcross is baby lacross. No contact except plastic on plastic, a tiny pathetic little squishy ball, and no pads.
We set up three stations, softball, cricket and softcross, man each one with a teacher, and split the kids into their teams. I've inadvertently managed to pick the two 'silliest' teams to start on softcross with me, and I briefly explain the rules and start the kids off.
For a while there, I had the kids interested. It was a challenge to catch the tiny ball in the basket, and teams were easily recognised by the colours of the sticks, so there was no need for the kids to wear braids to identify their teams. They ran and played, and then they 'forgot' that it wasn't okay to hit each other with the sticks, and we had to have a time out.
It was during this time-out, that Scotty, the third most annoying fourteen year old I've ever met, decides it'd be pretty funny to stick the lacross stick between his legs and make lude gestures (I tried to illustrate this, but it's better left up to your imagination). The lads all have a bit of a giggle, and I contemplate taking it off him, but decide against it when I realise that he'll only take that to be more suggestive. The next thing you know, thirty boys are kneeling with a lacrosse stick between their legs, and I'm trying to work out how to get them to stop without bursting into giggles. It's naughty, but it's bloody funny.
Next thing you know, Ted, one of the sweetest, most honest kids I've ever met, but also the largest by far (he'd be at least three times the size of your average eighth grader) picks up the little yellow squishy ball, and two gum leaves, and with the lacrosse stick between his legs, he yells "I've got the snitch!" and tears off across the oval, stick waggling between his legs as he does.
What happens next is so out of character I almost fall over, but I can only imagine that Ted's cred has played a serious role in what is and isn't acceptable. Ted's pretty cool, you see, the kids respect him. When I need them quiet, it's him that they look to to see what to do, and when he tears off like a rocket across the oval pretending to be everyone's favourite wizard, so do twenty-nine other boys. hands wrapped tightly around the handles of their 'broomsticks'.