Jags, skunks, locusts, balls and WINNING.
I recently described the area we live in as being similar to Seward Alaska, accessible by road to the big city, but somewhat remote. A very small community with lots of tourism, more restaurants than it needs, minus the big chain restaurants, and littered with tourist shops and activities. A town that partially shuts down in the off-season, and has that small town feel, where you feel like you know or at least know of almost everyone in town. That is Flamingo; except most people here are always in bathing suits or shorts, and the beaches here beg you to be bare foot, not in Extra Tuff rubber boots, even in the rain.
In all actuality, we are probably smaller, people wise than Seward, and definitely smaller family wise. You see there is a large contingent of retired or semi-retired people here, people sans kids. Therefore the schools are pretty small. The public schools, open air Bodegas, are all in spanish, not an option for english speaking kids. So the only other choice is a private school of which there are three in the area. Our kids go to Gold Coast, the school with the most seniors of any private school in the area, 8. This does not often make for a robust sports program, and often the first clue is when every able body boy in the school is on the basketball team. Dorian and Jeremy are among those. Oh, and several of those boys have never touched a basketball in their life.
The Gold Coast Jags had their first game a few nights ago in Liberia, against a school with about 800 kids. Although the game was extremely entertaining, it was not very competitive.
First of all there are some American assumptions that must be cleared up. Practice: In America, high school sports practice for pretty much any sport is 4-5 days a week, 2 hours a day, at least! Here practice is 1 day a week for 2 hours in a dark open air multi-purpose room with no fans, no air conditioning and lots of hot, heavy dead air. Shoot, I coached kids from 5 years old and up and we had practice at least 2-3 times a week.
Facilities: In America every school has a gym. In Costa Rica a school is lucky to have desks. However every private school I have seen has a pool, but not a gym. And the pool is more for cooling off during lunch than for competitive swimming. That’s why our kids practice at a facility several miles away in the middle of Huacas, that is dark,dirty and hot.
Mindset: In America we drove our kids to excel, we drove them to succeed in sports, at all costs, and we drove them to a lot of practices, games and meetings. It was a lot of driving. Here athletes, except for soccer, seem to have more of a surfer’s attitude. They want to win or catch the big wave, but if not, well Pura Vida, there will be another one soon. Don’t get me wrong, the kids want to win, the coaches want to win, but it’s not like their life depends on it. They compete and play hard, they get mad when they mess up, they get frustrated when others mess up and they work their butts off during the game. But when it’s done it’s done, time to get some Burger King or McDonald’s, a rare treat in these parts, and get ready for the next wave, after a brutal 2 hours of practice in the coming week.
Like all things here, it will take some getting used to. But I must say these are a lot of the changes that we wanted to experience. We don’t miss driving 200 miles a day ( literally) to practices, dance classes, games etc. We don’t miss having stressed out kids and angry parents screaming in the stands. And we don’t miss winning. Okay, that last one is a lie. We sure would like to win a few games this year, but first we better work on scoring some points. But on the bright side, the games are fun to watch, if not for the basketball action, then for the giant locusts flying around in the gym, or the bats feeding on the bugs by the lights, or even the skunks that wander nearby. Winning quickly becomes a secondary concern when a skunk is involved. Perhaps the Jags can figure out a way to use it to their advantage on defense.
This entry was posted on October 3, 2011 by Glenn G. It was filed under costa rica, Kids, Kids playing, sports, Uncategorized and was tagged with Gold Coast Academy, gunacaste, living in costa rica, sports.