Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Saving the weirdest for last

As you know, we spent the last two and half days of our trip at the Lake. Most of the students spent their time eating, sleeping and shopping. But of course, because it's Hoops Sagrado, there was basketball.

In addition to the game in San Pedro that we already blogged about, there were three games on Sunday night in Panajachel. The traditional phrase is "save the best for last" but in this case it was save the weirdest for last. First up were the Hoops young guys team and that game went pretty well.

Things seemed to be going well during the first game. It was a well-played, close game without too many bad calls and the Hoops Sagrado young men's team won 41 to 37 (Alec 15P/15R; Los 12P/3R; Manny 2P/4R; Ronnie 2P/1A/4R; Christian 4R; Djeder 5P; Zion 3P/1A/2R; Jesse 2P; Xander 2R; Max 2R).
Initially things seemed to be going pretty well in the girls game, but then the questionable fouls started rolling in and before we knew it KayKay and Tevanah each had four fouls out on them. With 7:45 to go KayKay fouled out (although we think she was given some other people's fouls) and with no sub we were down to four players. Initially it seemed like the coach of the Pana team was willing to run with four players on his side as well, but then they just decided to call the game with Hoops winning 40 to 22 (KayKay 7P/6A/1R; Tevanah 9P/1A/9R; Tee 23P/1A/8R; Mackenzie 2A/2R; Malakia 2P/3R).
Obviously there was no team photo after the game
Then it was time for the Hoops Men's game. It was pretty chippy from the get-go with lots of hard fouls and bad calls for the entire first half. But as everyone pointed's basketball, it's a physical sport. At half time, it seemed like maybe the refs were going to call the game (it really was not that bad, and I'm the first to admit when it gets too violent), but it turns out it was one of the Pana players who refused to continue playing and therefore the rest of the team wouldn't play either.

Here is Bryan's post from Facebook about the game: In the 16 years of Hoops Sagrado we have never had a ref call a game because it was too rough, for them. Hoops defeats Pana 31-28 in a game that was called at Halftime. It without a doubt, was a low watermark in Guatemalan basketball. Our game Saturday vs San Pedro was far more rough and both teams were all smiles and hugs afterwards. SMH Pana has become too Hippie.

Monday was spent buying gifts, swimming, horseback riding and just relaxing. We had a team dinner to celebrate our last night in Guatemala and Carlos' birthday and then it was back to the hotel to wait for our midnight departure to Guatemala City and the airport.

No really, the fish I caught was "this big."
Shrimp heads, shrimp heads roly poly shrimp heads eat them up yum.
The look you get when someone takes your phone.
Final night dinner.
Rockin' the stars and bars while horseback riding.
Malik working his recruiting magic for WVU! :)
What are those things you're smiling with Christian?
If this is really a virgin daiquiri, why are you laughing so much?
Trip besties
The birthday boy puts on his present.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Night boat

On Saturday we packed up our bags and said good-bye to our temporary families and left Xela for a couple of days at Lago de Atitlan before our Tuesday morning flight.

After wending our way through the Guatemalan countryside, we descended to the Lake. It's always fun to watch the reaction of first-time students because it really is gorgeous. Hopefully for you parents reading, your students took some good photos, but I do suspect more than a few of them were sleeping.

We had just about an hour before we had to catch a boat across the Lake to San Pedro for three games under the lights. While San Pedro has become rather touristy, our game was held up the hill (it's a really steep hill) in less a touristy area where most of the residents of San Pedro actually live and work.

With apologies to the parents/friends/supporters and students, "Stat Girl" did not keep stats for the Hoops Sagrado young team or the Hoops women's team. She tried, but sometimes life gets in the way. That being said, the Hoops Sagrado young team won 44-24 and the Hoops women's team won as well.

And while we did keep stats for the Hoops Sagrado Mixto team, the lighting was so bad and there were so many folks coming and going that we know we missed a lot of assists and rebounds as well as a few points for sure so we won't even post those. The Hoops Sagrado Mixto team did win by at least 10 points. A special shout out to "Last Ride" Deon Diggs for his 18 (probably more) points.

Following the games, we took a night boat across the Lake. Boats don't typically cross the Lake after dark, especially at 10:30pm, so it was a treat to be able to do it. It's Sunday now and the students have spent their day shopping...hopefully they are buying good stuff for all of you back at home.

Josh took the wheel and we lived to tell about it!

2015 Hoops Sagrado Tournament

Whew! It's been a hectic few days to say the least.

The bulk of Thursday and Friday were spent in Cantel for the 2015 Hoops Sagrado Tournament. The tournament is the culmination of all the hard work the Hoops Sagrado students and the Guatemalan children have done for the past three weeks.

The tournament kicked off Thursday morning bright and early with a parade of all the teams through the village of Cantel. There was a band and very many fireworks.

This year, with five camps instead of our traditional four games, it meant we had to change the way the tournament is run so we ended up having six games each day instead of four. That's a lot of basketball, but it was also a lot of fun.

The best thing about the tournament? The Guatemalan children who play their hearts out. There may be (there always are) some tears after a tough loss, but they still smile and take even the losses in stride.

It's a long day of basketball. Sometimes
things get a bit silly on the sidelines.
Following the games, each Guatemalan student was given a bag of school supplies and a basketball as a gift. A very special thank you the National Basketball Association and many of our friends, family and colleagues for donating the bags, basketballs and all the school supplies. A glue stick may not see like a lot to you or me, but the Guatemalan children, the cost of theses items is more than what most, if not all of their families make in an entire month.

The defending champion Pachaj girls played Xejuyup for the final.
Pachaj 6 vs. Xejuyup 5

The defending champion Pachaj boys played Colegio Maya for the championship.
Pachaj 10 vs. Colegio Maya 1

It was Colegio Maya vs. Chirijquiac for the third place game.
Chirijquiac 12 vs. Colegio Maya 10

In the third place boys game it was Xejuyup vs. Chirijquiac.
Xejuyup 7 vs. Chirijquiac 6

In the fifth place girls game it was Colegio Maya vs. Chuisuc.
Colegio Maya 8 vs. Chuisuc 6

In the fifth place boys game it was Xejuyup vs. Chuisuc.
Xejuyup 5 vs. Chuisuc 3

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A visit to Maria's house

When I first decided to come to Guatemala, I never dreamed I would form some of the relationships that I have here. From new friendships to sisterly bonding, the experience has been amazing and I would not trade anything for it. One person in particular, my teacher and newfound sister, Maria, has been an inspiration and has done so much to make this trip special for me. 

Last Friday Maria took Demani and I to visit her house in Xecam (a village near Xela). This was the first time she had ever invited students before, and we were very honored. 

After riding a microbus and then a regular bus to get to the village, we took the scenic route to her house. It seemed like every single person we walked by knew Maria and greeted us. We stopped in a Tienda to get tostadas and cheese, chatted with the lady for minute, and continued on our walk. 

Once we arrived at her house, the first thing we had to do was see the cow (now officially named Demani) and the other animals in various pens around the rooms. 

Maria lives with one of her brothers, his wife, and her sobrino (nephew). Directly next door is another brother and his family.  They all share the animals. 

Speaking of animals... Other than Demani the cow, there are goats (personal favorite), sheep, dogs (one specifically named Odie after Garfield) and little kittens all around (one which Demani named Osito  which means baby bear in English). 
After meeting the animals, we tested our cooking skills by making fresh limeade, and Maria proved hers by surprising us with cooked chicken on tostadas that she had prepared early that morning. 

We hung out for a bit, but had to leave because camps were in the afternoon, so we said goodbye to the animals and ran to catch the bus. 

Maria has been a huge reason this trip has been so amazing for me, and this opportunity and experience at her house will be remembered for the rest of my life. 
(This post was written by Mackenzie, who along with her Hoops classmate Demani, was given the chance to visit their teacher Maria at her home. Thanks to both of them for all of their hard work and willingness to be open and learn). 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Three is not a magic number

Hoops Sagrado has a very long and storied history with the professional basketball team here in Xela. To say the rivalry is friendly would be a stretch...if this were college football it would be the marquee game during Rivalry Weekend. It always gets heated, the refs always suck and sometimes Hoops Sagrado wins and sometimes Xela wins.

So many grumpy faces. It was a good game though!
The first game on Saturday was the Hoops Sagrado Young Guns game and it was a good, close game. With just .2 of a second left on the clock, the ball was inbounded to Demani who shot it and made it, the only problem is the ref called him for traveling and therefore the bucket was disallowed. The bigger problem is, the whistle came after he shot the ball and he WASN'T traveling! Sigh...thus is the life of the visiting basketball team. In the end if was Hoops Sagrado 62 vs. Xela 63 (Alex 23P/1A/13R; Los 3P/1A/2R; Manny 1P/3R; Christian 2P/2A/3R; Djeder 12P/2R; Zion 2P/1A; Demani 7P/3A/3R; Kevin 8P/2A/2R; Renard 2P/1A/2R; Jesse 2P; Xander 3R).

The Xela coach suggested we take this picture before the game so everyone would be smiling!
Next up was the Hoops Sagrado women's team. It's been a long time (2009) since we've had a women's team available to play against the Xela women's team so for those of us who have been around for a while, this was a real treat and it was a great game. It was a tough, hard-fought match as proof by the fact that more than one player for each team had four fouls, but in the end Xela, who had the luxury of having two substitutes prevailed. Xela 63 vs. Hoops Sagrado 61 (KayKay 15P/1A/7R; Tee 31P/1A/13R; Tevanah 13P/1A/7R; Mackenzie 2P/1A/3R; Malaika 1A/2R).

Before the final game of the night, the Xela team honored their longtime coach who died unexpectedly earlier this year. Since we have been playing against them for so long and consider many of the current and former players to be our friends (and our rivals of course) it was nice to be there for this special occasion.
Special sentiments aside, the game was a tough one. Hoops Sagrado was up 5 at the half, but then down 3 at the start of the fourth quarter and in the end Xela won. Xela 70 vs. Hoops Sagrado 61 (Bryan 7P/2A/2R; Diggs 17P; Malik 7P/5R; Josh 3A/7R; Alex 2P/1A/5R; Stan 3P/1R; Michael 9P/4A/3R; Demani 9P/1A/1R; Renard 2P/1A/5R; Kevin 5P/2A/1R).

Hasta proximo Xela! Hasta proximo! 

A day at the beach

Tuesday was jam-packed, but fun-filled day! 

We started off by visiting our friend Pati's school in San Felipe. Pati has been a friend of the program for a very long time and she is the athletic director at the school. The morning kicked off with
introductions, speeches and dances and singing by the students in San Felipe. There were then three short games of basketball with the Hoops Sagrado folks teaming up with students and teachers from San Felipe to form teams. It was a great way to be able to play some basketball!
During and after the games is when a lot of the fun happens at San Felipe because every year, the students seek out the Hoops Sagrado students for their autographs and photos. I'm never really sure whether our students are amused or overwhelmed by the whole thing, but they all seem to take it in stride.

After the games and autographs we loaded up the bus and headed to the beach for an afternoon of sun, fun and food (photos below).

Back in 2007 we had a bus that broke down on pretty much every trip we took. We had been fairly lucky since then, until last night. On the way home our bus broke down and no matter the efforts of our great friend and driver Gato, it just wasn't going anywhere. While we were waiting for another bus to come and pick us up from the side of a volcano, the students entertained themselves by singing everything from the National Anthem (proud of them for knowing all the lyrics) to Christmas carols! What could have been an annoying end to a great day, turned out to be pretty OK after all.