On my daily jaunt to the WC during a 15 minute brunch break between P2 (Alg1) and P3 (AP Stats), I pass a group of boys playing handball against the wall near my classroom. There are several handball games around campus, around 3-4 per building; it appears to be a favorite activity with the male Hispanic community on campus. Until today, I’d never played but it always looked like fun.
During today’s break, as I exited the classroom, a handball bounced my way. I bent down to pick it up and tossed it back to one of the players and kept walking. The student asked me if I wanted to play and I said “Sure.” Beginners luck led me to win the first round and I nearly won the second but didn’t want to win, just have some fun and show the boys I was willing to try something new.
I really enjoyed playing handball and chatting with a couple of the students. While we were playing, the number of students increased to about 8-12. All seemed very approachable and relaxed. One boy was definitely struggling with identity issues; he was doing his best “tough guy” act, full of gangster-esque looks and actions. They’re hard to describe but if you’ve seen them, you know what I mean. In some ways, students like this scare me since you do not know what’s going on in their heads. This same boy asked me if I was a teacher and I said “student teacher” and that confused him…I tried to explain but he brazenly brushed me off trying to be cool. It’s really sad to see boys choosing to act this way to feel good about themselves, at least that is what I believe is a strong driver for gravitating to gangs and such.
Anyways, I will play handball again with the boys if they have me. It was fun and is a great way to bond with them. While I’m a little out of shape, I kept up with them for a bit. Felt good.