By Anjali Ramakrishnan


Doing something a second time has several mentalities. Things are always easier when you have gained experience. And you’re bound to learn something you never thought would come up. However, it does not mean the second time will be perfect. I experienced both sides today.

I knew my way around the school and had gotten to know a few of the kids. I was in the process of learning to adjust to different classes having different behaviors. I felt more in control, but wasn’t sure what was next.

I was in the classroom with Varun Ram, a who plays basketball at University of Maryland and coach at Crossover last year. He was the primary coach at our station and the main leader of the drills and activities we did with the kids.

We were in the hot auditorium, in the middle of ice breakers when someone came to speak to Varun. I didn’t know who it was, but it was clear to me with clipboards and cameras these were important people. Varun asked me if I could manage the class on my own for a minute while he spoke to the visitors.

There I was, facing a group of 50 restless girls. We were a little less than halfway through, but each time a new student stood up to talk about their name, age, and where they are from, there was an extra complication. One girl would start whining, a group would start giggling, and the speaker would get distracted. To add to my nerves, one of the people who had come to speak to Varun was now aiming the camera at us. This not only made me nervous, but the girls immediately break out into peace signs and poses.

I wasn’t sure how to control everyone and make the activity successful. Though I had assisted Varun, managing it myself wasn’t something I felt confident about. I knew I had to be a leader and get this done, so that’s what I did. I gently scolded the girls to get them to pay attention and projected my voice. Whenever a girl would speak, I would correct their grammar and encourage them to confidently say it again. It was clear the blander it was the more inclined the girls would be to stop paying attention. I had depended on Varun quite a bit, and it was time for me to step up.

By the time the session ended, all the girls had shared their stories and calmed down. As I dismissed the girls, Varun was wrapping up conversation and the next group was coming in. It was a large one, so we split them up into two groups and each took one. I had gained confidence from the last session and was able to do more interesting games and have better control. By the end, the classroom was a success.

Leadership was an idea that had been stressed to us as coaches, but I didn’t realize the children wouldn’t be the only ones to learn it in this camp. These events taught me that a leader is someone who is always ready to step up, and that you never know what will make you a leader. For me, it was using what I had learned from working with Varun, connecting with kids, and boldness to assess the situation properly.

Most importantly, leadership isn’t assigned,  it’s inside of everyone, if only you’re brave enough to tap into it.

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