A Fresh Take on PeacePlayers

Coach Tessa and Coach Ryan

Coach Tessa and Coach Ryan during PPI-CY summer camp

Today’s blog is brought to you by PeacePlayers volunteer, Tessa Ramsay. Tessa is a high school English teacher who spent the summer helping out PPI-CY.

Since the writer of this blog is usually someone from inside the PeacePlayers organization, I have the opportunity, as an outsider, to shed some light on what the adults in this organization do. It is unlike any of the PeacePlayers staff members here to praise their work or brag about themselves; instead, they use their voices and ink cheering on and advocating for their kids, which is one reason why it is such a successful program. So here is a look at the adults who proudly wear the PeacePlayers-Cyprus logo on their shirts.

An intense game of 1 vs. 1

An intense game of 1 vs. 1

Back home in New York City, I am a high school English teacher. At the PPI-CY Summer Camp, I observed the interactions between coaches and players and was amazed at how deeply and naturally the coaches cared for their players. I kept thinking to myself, “these coaches would be great teachers,” until I eventually realized that they of course are teachers, ones that truly love their students.

Just like skilled basketball players, the PPI-CY coaches are always thinking of the next move—how can we make sure this player is more involved, how can we guarantee that this player feels safe, how can we reach more children to build this family? One coach kindly and privately reminded another of the specific struggle of an individual player to keep in mind when running practice. Then another coach proudly and publicly shared the triumph of another player’s awesome behind the back pass to the winning lay-up of a game. Two coaches even brought their two-month-old baby to camp so they could be there for their other kids.

Coach Bahar with our newest PPI-CY player, Maya!

Coach Bahar with our newest PPI-CY player, Maya!

As an educator, I’ve heard the word “patience” a lot. I must have patience with my students, with the budget, with myself. But this word had a new meaning here. I always assumed that you “had” to be patient, but these coaches seem to “want” to be patient. With three languages to attend to at camp, everything takes longer to be completed. That’s three sets of directions, three lists of expectations, three attempts at the same joke. The coaches take their time because they love what they do and they believe in what they do. What’s more impressive is that the players are patient, too. They listen attentively to the wisdom their coaches preach. And believe me, adolescents don’t just listen because they have to; they listen because they want to. They eagerly hang on the words of their coaches because they respect them. They adore them, really. I saw players save seats for their coaches in the camp cafeteria, and the coaches gladly plopped down next to them and started joking around. They shared music and tricks, they played late night pick-up basketball together, they did funny handshakes.

Coach Adam showing the participants the perfect defensive stance.

Coach Adam showing the participants the perfect defensive stance.

The humor and goofiness that was alive at camp is important to note because it was the enthusiasm of the coaches that really hooked the players. While so much about PeacePlayers is of course about finding peace, this solution cannot be attained if there is no connection. The coaches, with all of their careful planning and contagious excitement, were the reason the players felt comfortable enough to laugh together at the same silly trick their coach did, to start talking, and to begin sharing thoughts and ideas.

It’s clear that the one of the only ways to guarantee any change is to inspire those after you to carry on the mission. Even in just a week at camp, I saw how the Leadership Development Program (LDP) members absorbed the energy of their coaches and passed that on to the younger players. One LDP participant played a silly one-on-one game with a younger camper, and that younger player walked around camp the rest of the afternoon beaming with pride. Another LDP teenager volunteered to translate at a practice since they were a coach short for the afternoon. The LDP teenagers stayed up right until curfew to hang out with one another, just like their coaches did on the other end of the hotel lobby. These young leaders are taking what they learning, turning around, and teaching it almost immediately; it was a pleasure to see. It can take a lot to inspire adolescents, and the PPI-CY coaches make it look easy.

PPI-CY would like to thank Tessa for all of her help this summer! You will always be a part of the PeacePlayers family!

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