The first three weeks our sports, health and leadership topics were circuit training, personal safety and commitment. We were now on basketball, smart eating and hygiene. The girls, including Nicole, were warming up, and although I wouldn’t go as far as to say we were a “team”, we were moving in the right direction. Nicole is participating more, and I can tell she really likes basketball. She’s a natural athlete, but needs some, okay a lot, of help with being a team player. She’s quick to inform me that she already knows how to do every single skill and drill we try. But, today I’m quicker. Before she can get the words out, I ask her to be my helper. I explain I need someone who can demonstrate how to do the skills I’m going to explain. She agrees. I’m relieved, or better yet ecstatic! She does a good job and seems proud of herself.
During the bathroom break, she stops and says hi to the police officers at the security desk. It’s clear she knows them and they smile and greet her. She’s friendly with them, which makes me rethink my previous opinion that she has “trouble with authority”. Another good sign, one that tells me that she can connect with caring adults, once she trusts them or understands they’re there to keep her safe. I realized I really didn’t know that much about Nicole or what she needed. I didn’t know if she had siblings, who she lived with or anything about her outside of Girls in the Game. I decided I would learn what I could, starting by calling her family and introducing myself and asking them what they thought Nicole needed to have the best experience possible.