Getting on the plane to fly to South Africa, I had no idea what to expect. I had been briefed on a general idea of what the trip might involve; however, I was not prepared for the experience that I would have. Getting to spend a week with the kids of Timothy House was truly an unbelievable opportunity.
Every morning when we showed up at the field, I could see each guy and girl’s face light up as they ran over to give us a hug –they all knew us by name. The days were spent playing games, singing in line and when it came down to the drills, the girls would give everything they had. Even if they couldn’t quite understand what they were supposed to be doing, they would all respond “Yes Coach” and try their hardest. Their effort was inspiring, especially considering how exhausted they must have gotten. One thing that made an impression on me was that neither the language barrier nor the fact that lacrosse was a new sport for most of them hindered their desire to give us their full attention and utmost effort. As a result, it wasn’t surprising how quickly they picked up the sport. It took me over a year to be as good as most of those kids became in one week. Getting to spend time sharing the sport of lacrosse and getting to know each personality was something I would not trade for anything.
There are several experiences that stand out in my mind – one was when we started out two of the mornings playing a game of ‘Freeze Tag.’ It was obvious that the kids were tired. They had walked a long way and it was early and cold; however, as soon as we started playing, each girl was sprinting her heart out to either ‘tag’ or escape the person who was ‘It.’ Not only where they working so hard for themselves, but they would risk being ‘frozen’ to ‘un-freeze’ all of their friends. If you had been tagged, you could be sure that within seconds someone would be crawling through your legs to unfreeze you. It was amazing to see that selflessness in a game so simple as Tag. I also loved how the person who was ‘It’ would always say “Touch” when they tagged you, as if you could not feel it! This simple game expressed alot about how friendly, loving and cooperative the kids were. They would do anything for us and they just wanted us to love them in return.
When the week was over, we had the chance to go from teachers to students when we presented our homework assigned the Sunday before: learning and performing the Diski Dance. Although it was embarrassing how much worse we were in comparison, when it came down to American girls vs. American guys, the girls took home the prize. It was great to see how excited the Vaalwater girls got when we won!