III. Cricket in Action: Welcome to Kenmoor Elementary
"The hands-down response that we get from the students is that 'we love it. Let's keep doing it.'"
-Charles Silberman, Maryland Youth Cricket Association (MYCA) Coordinator and P. E. Teacher at Kenmoor Elementary
Like Harrison before him, Silberman had no preexisting experience with Cricket. Harrison came to Highland Park Elementary (Silberman's previous school) to teach the game to Silberman and the students. This was the first time cricket had been introduced to the Prince George's County school system.
Today, Silberman acts as the coordinator of the MYCA making sure to check in with physical education teachers in Prince George's County as they teach their students cricket. Silberman has organized two sessions with other county physical educators to come and be instructed by Harrison. After these sessions, teachers left with a cricket set, knowledge of the game, and the ability to start introducing the sport to their students.
On top of that, Silberman was able to get Harrison to speak in May of this year at the Maryland State P.E. Teachers Convention, where teachers from several Maryland counties were able to hear Harrison speak on cricket. Now schools in Baltimore, Carroll and Prince George's County, among others, have started teaching Cricket in their schools.
On Nov.3, Silberman led Ms. Buck's fourth grade class in their first introduction to the sport at his school, Kenmoor Elementary.
The group was ushered outside to a grass field where Silberman set up the field, and then explained the students the game. Although the game at its highest level is very complex and full of rules, Silberman taught an abridged version of the game to the class, so they could get playing as soon as possible.
As the explanation went on, I never sensed a lapse in concentration with the kids. I thought it would be a difficult sport to convey, but Silberman explained the game in a way that was easy for the kids to conceptualize and garner interest at the same time.
Silberman gave the kids a history lesson to begin the explanation by explaining that Cricket had been around the United States for many years. That George Washington used to play it, and Abraham Lincoln used to watch matches in the Midwest.
Then there were the rule comparisons between baseball and cricket. "You know how in Baseball there is foul territory? Well, in Cricket everything is in bounds." Or: "What if I told you, if you hit the ball out of play for a homerun, that you don't get one run, but you can get six runs."
To every explanation of the game, Silberman garnered interest by the kids. Then, he quickly broke them into two teams of ten, and began to play the game, while clarifying the rules as they went along.
The kids quickly got the hang of it and were enjoying the game thoroughly. One of the students asked Silberman, "Mr. Silberman, Can we cheer on our teammates?", to which he replied "Of course."
Within fifteen minutes, Ms. Buck's class was not only playing a game of Cricket, but enjoying the game, while practicing good sportsmanship.
IV. The Future of Cricket in PG County
"We have no illusions that children will abandon their favorite sports for cricket, and we know that the process of establishing cricket as a mainstream sport will take time. But we are patient and determined."
-Jamie Harrison, President of USYCA
The grassroots ideal of growing the sport through the children is something both Harrison and Silberman truly believe in. They both see the sport in its infancy similar to where soccer was 40 years ago.
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, but it took a lot of time before it gained a lot of traction domestically. Like cricket, soccer had to build from the ground up because older Americans dismissed the sport before they gave it a chance. Today, soccer has more children signed up and playing then any other sport in this country.
The long term goal is to grow the sport into leagues outside the school, but the short-term goal is to put a little plastic bat and ball in every child's hands. Plans are in the works to have a clinic for area students to get a better grasp on the game.
"We want to attract youths from the PG County area," said Silberman. "That's really the goal. We want to give them more exposure than the twenty minutes they might get twice a week in class, give them a set of equipment, so they can bring it back to their community and continue to play it."
For more information, visit the Maryland Youth Cricket Association's website at http://mdyouthcricket.org/