November 27, 2017

Cricket Seeds Bearing Fruit At Dunloggin Middle School

In March 2011, Jamie Harrison, President of the United States Youth Cricket Association (USYCA), introduced cricket to PE teachers in the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) in Maryland. Later that year, HCPSS purchased 200 cricket sets from USYCA and distributed the sets to its elementary and middle schools.

Many of the PE teachers allowed their cricket sets to gather dust in the closet, but not so for Mrs Nancy Stefan at Dunloggin Middle School. She did some research to come up to speed on cricket and went full forward to introduce cricket to her students. Mrs Stefan modified the rules a little to accommodate the space and time she had during PE. The ethnically diverse student population embraced the sport as many of their parents grew up with cricket. Mrs Stefan had to buy more cricket sets to accommodate the large number of students in her cricket elective.

Fast forward to fall 2017, when the Cricket Guy, Sham Chotoo, and his two coaches, Kareem Syed and Rupinder Singh, visited Dunloggin to do cricket demonstrations for the students and PE teachers. The school had a half day, so all the classes were 25 minutes long. As the coaches cranked through the first demonstration, news of the cricket excitement in the gym made its way throughout the school. The students in the following classes already knew that they will be doing cricket and wanted to experience the fun themselves. At many other schools, the 8th graders would be very reluctant to try cricket. But 8th grade volunteers were aplenty at Dunloggin to participate in the cricket demonstrations.

Coach Kareem bowled while the students took turn batting and fielding. Some of the baseball players had to get used to the bouncing ball, which threw off their timing. But it did not take them to long to make good contact and crush the ball. One girl, who had never played cricket before, stepped towards the ball and made a perfect on-drive (a difficult cricket shot to master), which surprised all 3 coaches. There were singles, doubles, fours, sixes, bowled, caught and run outs. Students and teachers asked good questions throughout the demonstrations, and the coaches provided the appropriate responses. This was Coach Kareem and Coach Rupinder’s first time teaching cricket during PE, and they both thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Principal Jeffrey Fink had to see for himself what all the talk was about. He listened as Sham explained the basics to the students and took photos while the kids were playing the game. Dr Fink posted a few of the photos to the Dunloggin Twitter feed (@hcpss_dms).

During the lunch break, students were allowed to continue playing cricket in the gym. Some students got a chance to bowl while others batted and fielded. At first, most of bowlers started off throwing the ball instead of bowling it. But a little coaxing from the coaches with a few pointers straightened out those bent elbows. Many students, who did not have PE that day, also stopped by to check out the game.

The next week, Mrs Stefan followed-up with her cricket unit during PE, and the students were happy to continue playing. Mrs Stefan said that the kids are REALLY excited about the spring cricket opportunity. Most likely, there will be two teams from Dunloggin participating in the WAMS Cricket League.

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