“When the [Bay Area Small Schools Athletic League] (BASSAL) met as a group this past summer to determine what sports we would play, we tried to think of sports that would best serve our students and be fun and easy to start up,” said Stanbridge Athletic Director and Table Tennis Coach Mark Kelley. “Lycée [Français de San Francisco] already had table tennis as one of their main sports, so we knew we would have a location to host tournaments.”
And a tournament they did play. Five students, both boys and girls in divisions middle elementary through high school, joined the inaugural table tennis team, which participated in a round robin versus Lycée and Sterne School.
“It was fun playing in the tournament, because we got to see other schools,” said one of the upper elementary table tennis team members. “Table tennis is like tennis but smaller. It requires a lot of patience to if you want to see someone’s weakness.”
In addition to patience, Mark says table tennis teaches other skills that can be useful on the court as well as in the classroom.
“Table tennis teaches social learning, because you have to interact with an opponent almost constantly,” said Mark. “And no other sport teaches hand-eye coordination quite like it.”
Assistant Volleyball Coach and Junior High Teacher Jamie Sturos spoke similarly of volleyball.
“Volleyball teaches perseverance. Nothing comes easy. No one is born good. You have to work at it, and you have to practice,” said Jamie. “Volleyball teaches the kids to keep trying to get to the goal they want, and that holds true in both athletics and academics.”
Six junior high and high school students joined the new volleyball team, which played two games versus Sterne.
“It’s fun being on the volleyball team,” said one of the junior high team members. “I got to make a lot of new friends, especially people in other divisions.”
If interest in table tennis and volleyball continues, the sports will be offered again next spring along with street hockey, which is now in its sixth year.
“I had an interest in coaching, because I used to play back in the day. When I was in college at UC Irvine I was on a roller hockey team,” said Erik Tom, who has been coaching street hockey at Stanbridge for four years. “Roller hockey is extremely similar to street hockey except there are no skates, just feet on the ground.”
The team, which was comprised of eight co-ed players from junior high and high school this year, competed in two games versus The Charles Armstrong School. Although the team was defeated in both games, Erik tells the players “you can’t win unless you learn how to lose,” a quote from former NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“It doesn’t matter if we lose, because that’s not why we play,” said a high school student on the hockey team. “Hockey has always appealed to me because of the chants and the excitement. Playing is a thrill.”