AS TOLD TO ORKEESWA

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"HOW CAN I COACH KIDS IF I CANNOT EVEN SHOOT A BASKETBALL MYSELF?"

Each year, Orkeeswa's 10th grade students go to local primary schools where they became teachers, coaches and mentors as part of our Outreach Program. Stella uses what she learned as a National Team Rugby player to become an impactful teacher and basketball coach at Monduli Juu Primary School.

Story by Orkeeswa Alum, Edna

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“My first time teaching at Monduli Juu Primary School, I entered a class of 105 students. They just stared at me. I am 5 feet tall—and thin. You could easily mistake me for a primary school kid. Most of them were taller than me. I am not a shy person but at that moment, I felt like sweat was running down my body."

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"I was excited to coach, at least. My sport was rugby. They didn’t have rugby at the school. But they had basketballs. So, I had to coach basketball. At first, I thought I would not be able to do it. How can I coach kids if I cannot even shoot a basketball myself? But I did my best. When I went for a layup, the players would always say, “nice coach!” even if I missed it. It was like my rugby practices." 

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"I actually did not like rugby at first. I thought it was a rough sport.  In 5th grade, an Orkeeswa student taught me rugby for the first time. When I saw a ball that looked like an egg in his hands, I had a lot of questions in my mind. How do you throw it? How do you catch it? How do you score a goal? Every time the coach threw the ball at me, I dropped it. It happened again and again."

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"Learning how to play Rugby took patience. When I got to Orkeeswa School, some older students were coaching us. One of them was Mathayo. When I thought the sport was really hard, Mathayo told me, “It is not. It’s your mindset that thinks the sport is hard.” He never wanted to quit. He told me how he had traveled to Kenya to play rugby. He would push us so that we could do whatever seemed hard at first. Slowly, I started liking rugby."

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"I remember one of the rugby tryouts. I was on the junior team and we were playing against the senior team. I had a ball under my arm, and I was running and someone was chasing me. I leaned down for a touch, which is how we score in rugby, but then the opponent behind me tackled me hard. It felt like the ground was as hard as a rock. I hurt my knees. They bled so badly that I cried. I still have the scars. I thought I would never play rugby again. When I told Mathayo he showed me the scars he had on his elbows and knees. I walked away."

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"Even though I am not a good basketball player, I am a good coach. Mathayo always told me how players learn by watching. When I went to the basketball court, I did not shoot around because if I did, the girls would do the same. I made sure the team was organized. When I told them to run, I did it with them. I taught the basketball girls that they should help each other because they are one team. They cheered when their teammates made a basket or tried and missed. I was really excited when they showed up to practice ready to learn. They would divide themselves so that some of the girls got the basketballs and others arranged the cones. Then they would come to the office and tell me, 'Coach, we are ready for practice.'”

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"One day, I told my players about my rugby journey. They did not know what rugby was. I borrowed a rugby ball from Orkeeswa School, and showed it to them. I showed them the arrangement of the players on a piece of paper and told them how you have to tackle your opponent. They thought I was crazy. I showed them my scars. One of the girls asked me, “Teacher, why didn’t you quit?” I told them they had to try new things and not quit when they found it challenging."