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My Favourite Thing: Annual District Sports Day
Primary School Teachers
Member Name: jammaker49
Primary School Teachers
Date: 12/07/02, updated on 12/07/02 (909 review reads)
Advantages: 2 afternoons out of school!, Can let my hair down and scream and shout as much as I like
Disadvantages: No dinner breaks for a few weeks
As most of you will know, my main function at school is as SENco (Special Educational Needs coordinator) but once a year I get to do what, in my opinion, is one of the best jobs in the school calendar year. I get to train the athletics squad, and take them to compete against the other schools in the borough, at the annual District Sports meeting.
Now before I go any further, let me dispel all notions that I am even slightly athletic! Initially, I got the job purely because nobody else wanted it, and as I don’t have a class as such, it was felt that I had more time to devote to it! Huh!! So about seven years ago, I reluctantly took on the mantle of athletics manager because I couldn’t bear to see the disappointment on the faces of those children if they had been withdrawn from the competition!
We are a small school, with only one class in each year. We compete against all the other schools, of all sizes, across the borough. The kids have to put up with me training them, considering I have very little experience of how to change batons, and in fact, won’t even run for a bus. Correction: CAN’T even run for a bus!! But let me tell you, that no school could have as much fun as we do!
We begin as soon as it is dry enough and warm enough to use the school field. At least, that is the theory! In practice, we can’t really begin until after Year 6 SATs are over, because I am heavily committed to those. So in practice, we don’t get going until around the 20th May. That’s if it stops raining, and the men have been to cut the grass and paint on the white lines! Usually they manage to do it base upwards! One lot comes and paints the lines, and then the next lot come and cut the grass! I kid you not. It happens at least once every year.
Anyway, the whole of the junior section of the school descend on the field one sunny afternoon to run off each class to find the fastest in each. Unfortunately,
the nature of the athletics meeting means that many are disappointed, but that part is beyond my control. Each school is limited to 2 sprinters and a relay team for each year, plus a medley relay team (one child from each of the years making up the relay team) and one 200-metre runner. Double this for boys and girls, add a few reserves, and it amounts to approximately 45 children.
Then begins the lunchtime training. For 3 weeks or more, I do not get a dinner break of any note, as I am out on the field endeavouring to get the baton round the circuit in some reasonable sort of fashion. I will say here, that although I sometimes moan about it, in actual fact, I enjoy doing it. And our kids are pretty good on the whole.
Two or three days prior to the track meeting, we run the kids off again to ascertain who will be running in the sprints, the relays and the 200 metres, and who will be the reserves. At all times, we emphasise the importance of the reserves. Indeed, on a number of occasions we have had to call on the services of the reserves at the last minute. All the squad get to go to the stadium, whether they are running or not.
On the day of the meeting, we gather up the squad at mid-day, and make the 20-minute journey to the stadium by coach. Another member of staff comes (thank goodness!) to take on an official role in the centre of the field. I’ve trained them, so I don’t see why I should give up watching and cheering for them by having to take on an official job! We also take a classroom assistant with us to deal with minor first aid. This is usually the mum of someone taking part!
We have our lunch at the stadium, and then the children go out on the track for a warm up. For a few years, we were lucky enough to have a family with relatives who trained at the track, and we managed to arrange a Sunday get together on the track prior to the children running. Yes, this meant giving up a Sunday, but hey, as you can
tell, by now I was hooked!
Now I have already stated that ours is a small school. In some classes, I have been limited to less than a dozen children to choose at least 6 runners from. Some schools have 3 classes for each year, giving them sometimes up to 40 children to choose from! As you can guess, some of the children that run for our school wouldn’t get a look in at another. However, I can honestly say that my kids are so enthusiastic that what they lack in many ways, they make up for in others.
We have fantastic parental support too. In fact, I make a point each year of creating at least 2 special parents certificates, which they really enjoy. I say with no word of a lie, that the vocal support from “our lot” always overshadows any support from any other team. And I confess here, that their manager is probably the most vocal of them all! In fact, this year, I was glad I wasn’t at school the following day, as I had totally lost my voice! But what the hell! The kids are there to enjoy themselves, and so am I!
Let me tell you about this year’s athletics. We began with 16 sprinters. Two boys and two girls from each year. 10 of those got through to the semi finals. We had eight relay teams. 3 got through to the semi finals. Our two 200 metre runners (and for 11 year olds, 200 metres is a very gruelling distance) just missed out on the semis. The whole squad cheered and yelled, patted each other on the back, whether they’d come 1st or 6th, and generally had a thoroughly enjoyable time. So did their manager!
We returned the following week for the semis and finals. Last year, we had one boy sprinter who was the borough champion, and one relay team. The year before we had one relay team. So this year, we were out to defend those titles and hopefully improve on them.
After the semis we had 4 sprinters and 2 relay teams through to the finals, which were run on the same day. Thi
s meant that some children had 4 races in the one afternoon, in both sprint and relays.
The finals began, and our Year six boy defended his title by winning again this year! Our section of the spectators went totally wild. Our Year six girl finalist ran well to finish 5th in the borough. Next came our Year 5 girl sprinter. Last year she came 3rd in the final. Cheered on by all those present, with determination written all over her, she sped down the track and finished first! Another champion, and only 4 races run! In the next race, our Year 4 boy sprinter cam 4th, after running superbly.
We now had a long wait till the final 2 races; the medley boys relay and the medley girls. The boys were defending the title they have held for the past 2 years, and despite the third leg almost dropping the baton (so they informed me later!) they romped home in the lead. By now we were almost hoarse, and not one of the team had left to go home, even though it was past school finishing time. The medley girls were in the last race, and finished second. So concluded a very successful district sports meeting, and it was off to the trophy shop and back to the PC to print out the certificates.
Now why is this annual event one of my favourite things? Firstly, because it gives me great pleasure to take these kids out for 2 very enjoyable afternoons. Of course, I also get 2 afternoons out of school, but considering how tired I am at the end of it, I don’t think that counts!
Secondly, if you could see the team camaraderie that exists throughout the whole team, how each member supports all the others, how they congratulate and commiserate, encourage and back each other, you would know why it is one of my favourite things! It’s at times like this I really love my job.
A third reason is maybe slightly obscure. It is with a deep sense of pride that I watch these kids. Comparing them with some of the other schools, their behaviour,
and whole attitude is really something to see. We have our fair share of rogues, but they always come up trumps when taken out. This is a reflection on their parents as well as on the school, and at times like this, you can see the underlying community spirit of the whole school “family” for want of a better word!
It also gives me an opportunity to let my hair down after a stressful run up to SATs, and believe me, do I let it down! And it’s rewarding to have the parents’ backing and support, and appreciation, even although I’m not doing it for that reason!
It also gives my Special Needs kids the same opportunity as the others to succeed. Indeed, many of my kids are excellent athletes, and this is their chance to shine. It’s wonderful to see their faces when they return to our section of the ground, whether they’ve qualified or not. And for me, that makes it all worthwhile.
My hubby is the “official” photographer, and takes loads of pics of the kids running, from which I make a display for the end of term Parents’ Evening. The parents order prints, and from the money collected, we have recently purchased smart new kits for the squad, including tracksuits. Yes, I have to spend time printing them out, and yes I have to spend time collecting in the kits, arranging for parents to wash them, and packing them all away for the following year. But I wouldn’t NOT do it for all the tea in China.
Annual District Sports is one of my favourite things, and will be for many years to come.
Jill Murphy asked me to write about one of my favourite things to help her celebrate her fourth anniversary of cancer-free living and to remind ourselves of all the nice things in the world. It takes more muscles to make a frown than a smile you know.
If you'd like to join in, whether you've only just joined
dooyoo, or you've been here ages, you're more than welcome. Just write about one of YOUR favourite things, make your title "A Favourite Thing: [your choice]" and include this paragraph at the foot of your opinion. And post before Friday, 9th August."
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