The story of the Teeball Team has been simmering away since last term. I always meant to write about it, but I didn't want to do it at a time when it might have made Climber feel bad, and then came the Great Blog Hiatus of October/November.
All the kids in grades 5 and 6 at our school play Inter-School Sports on a Thursday afternoon, competing in the sport of their choice against other local primary schools. Last year Climber played soccer in the A-team, but it was a disaster despite his soccer prowess and he didn't enjoy it at all. This year his choice was Teeball which, in case you are unfamiliar with this sport, is a modified form of baseball, minus the pitching: the ball is placed on a big tee, and the batters step up and try to knock it for a home run. Climber was delighted to make the A-team, and they had a terrific, enjoyable and undefeated season. He looked forward to Thursday each week.
At the end of the season, the teams who won their inter-school competitions qualified to go on to the next level, and the kids on the representative teams were stood up at Assembly on Monday to be wished luck - something I'd witnessed with football and basketball teams which had progressed all the way to Regional. So I was fully expecting Climber to stand up when they called on the Zone Teeball team, and when he didn't I assumed that he'd been vague-ing out and had just missed the announcement.
However, what actually happened was that the Teeball Co-ordinator had, as was allegedly traditional, disbanded the successful (*cough* undefeated!!! *cough*) team and held new tryouts for the representative team to compete at the higher levels of Zone, Regional and State. And at that stage Climber was ditched in favour of some footy boys, all of whom had already represented the school at Zone and Regional with football.
I approached the Teeball Co-ordinator to find out why Climber wasn't in the team (very tactfully and nicely, she's also the drama teacher and I didn't want to sabotage Climber's progress in the School Production) and she said that they had to do it or the kids would get thrashed and humiliated at the higher levels. I said at the time I see, but I didn't see, not at all, and I spoke to lots of other parents about it, and none of them saw either. All of us thought it was dreadfully unfair, particularly in light of the original team having been undefeated, particularly because the drafted kids had already had a shot at representing the school in their own sport of choice, and also because it seemed so unnecessarily cut-throat for a primary school aged competition. It felt like winning was being made the thing, and I was pretty sure that wasn't actually our school policy. People who knew Climber also agreed with me that it seemed unwarranted, given that he is a perfectly competent sportsperson (gold medallist gymnast, star goalkeeper and Best & Fairest player for his soccer team this year, competent cricketer and tennis player to name but few). It was all making me feel very cranky.
Best and Fairest Award Winner for his Soccer Team this year
I also started feeling progressively crankier about the New Improved Team being so lauded, as I read in consecutive newsletters and watched at consecutive Assemblies, them being: wished well for Zone, being congratulated for winning Zone, being wished well for Regional and then congratulated for winning Regional and qualifying for State. The original team were never once stood up and thanked for their efforts in getting them qualified in the first place. Week after week, there sat my child, never getting to have what I considered a deserved little moment in the sun at school. Salt, wound.
Eventually I wrote an email to the Principal, querying the ethics of the situation, which caught her completely on the hop and apparently caused her to spend the rest of the day chasing round trying to find out the whys and wherefores. Now, at this stage I am reading between the lines, but I think what happened is that she believes in supporting her staff, so she sent me a letter saying it was necessary to field a competitive team, all the other schools did it, and some other stuff about teachers doing the Rep stuff out of the goodness of their hearts etc: bottom line - the Teeball Co-ordinator was not at fault. I was already drafting a so team-stacking is okay because everyone else does it? reply, but then, magically, it transpired that they could take a few extra kids to the State Final and so the 4 ditched kids, Climber included, were asked if they'd like to come and play, and all but one of them said yes please. So, I think, deep down, everyone knew it had been unfair, and the issue was handled in as face-saving manner as possible. I was happy with that, and Climber was certainly happy to be back on the team and heading off to represent the school.
They came third on the day and were stood up at Assembly the following week and soundly applauded for their magnificent achievement - the 3rd best teeball team in Victoria!