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Jill Diedrich, a UMD education major doing her student teaching in Belize, was asked by the St. Peter Claver School principal to coach the elementary school girls basketball team. Not only did she help them win the Spring 2004 southern district championship, but they went on to win the national championship.

Jill Diedrich (above right) with host family member, Eden

The Belize National Basketball Tournament was held in Orange Walk Town. There are only six districts in Belize. Deidrich's school, St. Peter Claver School, represented the Toledo District. Deidrich said, "When we arrived in Orange Walk Town we had a parade around the town. There was also an opening ceremony and cultural event where I got to see mestizo and garifuna dancers."

She also had a chance to observe how the Belizian girls handled themselves during the competition. "They weren't very high scoring games and the girls were nervous. On the playing field, hardly any of the kids showed any emotion after winning, not even a smile."

Later, everyone celebrated on the way home. "One of the boys tipped over a five gallon bucket on the bus and started drumming," she said. "The kids danced Punta almost the whole way home. It was a five hour bus ride and they danced for four hours straight. The next day, the school had a Pep Fest and the principals handed out the medals and trophies all over again. After the Pep Fest they held a parade around the town. During the parade some boys got in the back of a Ford Ranger, the police truck, and drummed. With the drumming as a background, the teams and the whole school paraded around town cheering.

The parade around Punta Gorda Town

Deidrich was interviewed live on a Belize radio station."It was pretty neat," she said. "Not like a live radio interview back in the United States. We were just sitting a kitchen table with microphones. I introduced myself, because the audience would know that I wasn't a Belizian because of my accent. I got to talk about UMD and Minnesota in general."

Deidrich thought they gave her too much credit. "The radio announcer kept saying that I made the team win. I just told him that I didn't do anything accept push the team to work their best and not give up.

Posted March 22, 2004.


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Last modified on 11/06/03 11:02 AM

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