You want to teach a high school kid about world history, foreign relations, geography? Here’s an idea – bring the world to his front door.
Several Central Texas basketball teams have played non-district games against visiting high school club teams from Australia this season. For Connally’s Quinton Snell, it marked his sixth straight year to do so, and said it’s become a valuable experience all the way around.
“What we’ve done, we’ve played the same organization every year, but for whatever reasons they couldn’t make the trip this year,” Snell said. “So we ended up getting another team out of Melbourne. For us, there’s always a cultural piece, as the (visiting) players stay with people in our community. And they’ve gotten a chance to hang out with students from our school, take pictures, everything.”
Connally zipped past that Melbourne Heat team, 100-30, but the game was only part of the proceedings. The teams swapped T-shirts and posed for photos with one another, and the Cadets had barbecue and Blue Bell ice cream on hand for their overseas visitors.
“There’s a togetherness that you like to see,” Snell said. “Your kids get to see that even though these kids are from another country, another continent, they’re not any different from you. They may just speak a little differently.”
China Spring’s David Ellis had a similar experience this season when School Sport Australia, a team out of Victoria, Australia, contacted him about playing the Cougars on their international tour. Ellis said that he had a January open date that he was having a hard time filling back in September when he was still finalizing the program’s schedule. So when School Sport’s tour coordinator emailed him about coming to China Spring, he was intrigued.
Ellis said he was impressed with School Sport, which had three players 6-foot-5 or bigger. The game was close for a half before China Spring went on a 17-0 third-quarter run that fueled a 71-44 win. But beyond the game, the experience was eye-opening, Ellis said.
“It was just a great experience for our guys to see that basketball is a global game,” he said. “And we had a great crowd here, they really filled up the gym to support the game, which was nice.”
Ellis said that he tried to roll out the red carpet for the School Sport squad, including passing along gifts of Mars candy bars, Dr Peppers, and cookies favored by George W. Bush, along with a write-up explaining Bush’s connection to Central Texas.
“We had a lot of fun with it,” the China Spring coach said.
Mexia also played a touring Australia team earlier this month, the Aussie Basketball Travelers. The Blackcats won that game, 61-49.