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The Argus


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Pickup Basketball Could Solve School Stress

Students playing pickup basketball in the main gym during Wednesday lunch.
Aasif Benke
Students playing pickup basketball in the main gym during Wednesday lunch.

Before I participated in Mr. Thomas’ pickup basketball activities, I would wander the halls alone and be sad. In contrast, once I found out about the game, my stress and social life felt taken care of.

One of the most popular sports in the world has found some attention at Gresham High School lunch.

Frank Thomas, a teacher at Gresham High School, has been hosting basketball pickup games for anyone to come play.

 “When I first came to this school a decade ago, the principals always talked about how we needed a way to get students who aren’t really into school to find a connection here. I grew up not being very good at school, and sports was a way to help that. So I said to myself, A bunch of our kids want to play soccer and basketball, and they don’t really have a place to play. So I started doing basketball on Wednesdays and soccer on Fridays, and I’ve done it every week since.” Thomas said.

According to Yale University, nearly 75% of a 21,600-student survey expressed negative feelings toward school. Stress and boredom were the most frequently thrown-around words in the survey.

 It’s pretty clear that high school students struggle with going to school, and when they do, it creates an even bigger problem: stress. Which could be correlated with the lack of physical activities available in high school.

 I think it’s more than obvious to say that participating in physical and fun activities would greatly relieve stress. The pickup basketball at Gresham High School hasn’t just relieved stress and brought the community closer. That was when I got the opportunity to interview junior Eduardo Picazo, whom I met while playing a pickup game about this very topic.

“You get to play with different people that you probably don’t know, and you can also learn from them, like new dribbles or shooting strategies, and also some rules” Picazo said.

According to the National Federation of State High School Association, the number one reason that students compete in high school sports is to have fun with their friends. When I asked the senior Miguel Agaro, who plays Wednesday pickup every week, about it, he couldn’t agree more.

 “I’m not much into basketball, but just playing with friends or randos is what makes it fun for me,” Agaro said.

 You don’t need to have basketball experience to participate; you can just grab a ball and start shooting around. Sometimes even Mr.Thomas will join a game! I was very interested in what could have gotten him into basketball and how to eventually start the pickup games.

“My dad wasn’t very good, but I would see guys play at the park when I was little and always wanted to do it. Then as I got older we’d play out in the street with neighbor kids for hours and hours. I also watched the Blazers in the early 90s going against Larry Bird, the Celtics, and Jordan in the finals.” Thomas said.

Michael Jordan being a part of introducing Thomas to basketball isn’t much of a surprise. Frank Thomas introduced many to the game of basketball, and maybe someday the students who participated may create opportunities for the next generation to have the fun and excitement of meeting new people. Just like Mr. Thomas built a bond with his father, you are able to make closer bonds with people you may or may not know.

“Everyone was nervous the  first time coming into the gym. Me, Mr. Thomas, I don’t judge anyone and accept all sorts of people, so come up to me and say hi and ask for a ball I’ll set you up! And the older kids who play love seeing new people come in and play, and they don’t judge or hate either, so don’t worry about them. They were first-timers once too.”  Thomas said.

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