With more and more children playing video games, and with the increase in childhood obesity in the USA, physical education teachers are always on the lookout for new, fun activities to get their students moving and staying active.
Earlier this year, Matthew Augustin from Montgomery County Public Schools, recognizing that “the sport of cricket supports student learning of skills and concepts to effectively play striking and fielding games,” invited The Cricket Guy (Sham Chotoo) from the Bowie Boys & Girls Club to introduce cricket to all the middle school and high school PE teachers during their Professional Development Day in July. During the July introduction, the county’s PE teachers really enjoyed the cricket demonstration and thought that their students would take to the sport as well. With cricket being the second most popular sport in the world, that was a safe assumption.
After the July cricket demonstration, PE teacher Marilyn Keane from Gaithersburg Middle School purchased a couple of cricket sets and planned to teach her students the game. Roberto Clemente Middle School and Kingsview Middle School (KMS) also expressed an interest in starting cricket programs, with an eye toward entering teams in the Washington Area Middle School Cricket League in spring 2017.
When Coach Sham volunteered to teach cricket at Shady Grove Middle School (SGMS) in Gaithersburg, PE teacher Chanda Guitano-Stephens jumped at the opportunity because she herself enjoyed learning about cricket in July. On October 10, Coach Sham spent a half day at SGMS teaching the basics of cricket to more than 300 sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. As usual, all the 6th graders were very enthusiastic to participate in the demonstration. The 7th graders were a little skeptical at first, but were eager to try when they learned the basics. The 8th graders were initially less interested, but a few were brave enough to participate in the demonstration. Once they got going and started having fun, the other 8th graders wanted to participate and really got into it. Principal Edward Owusu observed one of the cricket sessions and is very supportive of starting cricket at SGMS.
Nine middle schools in Montgomery County were then approached to start cricket programs, and so far, four schools have responded positively: Shady Grove, Gaithersburg, Kingsview, and Roberto Clemente. Coach Milroy Don from Future Stars School of Cricket (FSSC) has volunteered to be the coach for the SGMS Cricket Club, and Coach Gaurav Desai has volunteered to be the coach for the KMS Cricket Club. Coach Milroy is one of the best youth cricket coaches in the USA. Some of his players have gone on to play for the USA National Cricket Team.
Cricket coaches from the four youth clubs in Montgomery County are happy to volunteer their time to start school cricket clubs and form school cricket teams. Rockville Rockstars Cricket Club (RRCC), Germantown Kids Cricket Club (GKCC), Maryland Thunder and FSSC all have travel teams (11U, 15U or both) that participate in the Maryland state tournament. The coaches from these teams are key to supporting the growth of school cricket in Montgomery County.