Life as a METCO Student by Peter Uzoma, MSW & 2004 METCO Alumni
Life as a METCO student had its challenges. Some of the challenges have made me the person I am today, like taking the early morning bus from my home in Boston to high school out in Concord, which included adjusting to a new town that wasn’t as diverse as the Greater Boston area. As difficult as it was to assimilate to these challenges, one challenge that I didn’t anticipate was high school sports, specifically basketball.
Growing up in the inner city, basketball was a normal extracurricular activity that all youth engaged in. I’d been playing basketball since I was six years old. Although I’d never played in an organized school league prior to high school, I as well as my peers thought that I had a real knack for the game. As my freshmen year of high school approached, I became very excited to play organized basketball – hoping that being on the freshmen team would help me adjust to the new school, the new area, and overall, the new challenges. Unfortunately, I did not make the freshmen basketball team. The coach stated that “I didn’t work hard enough.” Those words were ingrained in my head for the rest of the school year and the subsequent summer.
My first thought was that the other students weren’t fond of me. Being new to an area where most of the freshmen knew each other from the town middle school, my first inclination was that I wasn’t chosen to be on the team because I was viewed as an outsider. Not making the basketball team put in perspective how vivid the challenge of acclimating to this high school in a new area would be. After a lot of deliberation and taking into account that the coach ultimately chooses the team, I realized what the real issues were. It was my insecurity as well as my cockiness that got in the way of my dream to play for my first organized basketball team.
Sophomore year, after vigorous workouts during the summer and the words of the freshmen coach replaying in my ear, I tried out for the Junior Varsity basketball team and made it. To my joy, The Junior Varsity coach said that I was one of the hardest workers during tryouts and that he could tell that I genuinely loved the game of basketball. The remarks from the coach at the freshmen year tryouts and those of the coach at the sophomore year tryouts were polar opposites. Learning how to utilize my strengths as a basketball player carried over to my strengths as a person and helped me embrace the obstacles in this new school, and in the overall environment. It allowed me to take hold of my insecurities and work on adjusting to high school as a whole, including basketball. My sophomore year I started every game I played and was viewed as a leader by my teammates.
My junior and senior high school basketball seasons reflected the growth and maturity that I underwent the previous two years. Not only did I become a DCL Varsity basketball first team all-star, but I also became a mentor to other aspiring METCO basketball players. The Abby Fund is named after one of my mentees Abdirauf Abdullahi, “Abby.” He and other METCO student athletes would look for ways to improve their abilities on and off the basketball court by working out and practicing after school with me. By accepting and embracing the challenges before me, I was able to pass on necessary knowledge to fellow METCO students and ease their experience in a new and less diverse town, which to me is greater than any athletic achievement I received during my high school career.
Stay tuned for The Abby Fund’s upcoming event, the CCHS Basketball Alumni game at CCHS on May 26th 2012. Abdirauf’s peers will be playing to help us reach our scholarship fundraising goals for 2012. Please isit The Abby Fund website at http://theabbyfund.org/. If you would like to volunteer or donate please email firstname.lastname@example.org.