Tavan Elementary recently hosted its annual March Madness basketball game on March 6.
The event is more than simply a game for the fifth graders who play in it. It is also designed to connect Tavan students with Arcadia High School – whose students also participate in the event – in hopes of inspiring students to be excited about athletics when they reach high school.
Former Tavan physical education teacher Mike Naderer helped create the basketball event six years ago after the school decided it wanted to emulate its successful Turkey Bowl played in November, which is a flag football game for teams of Tavan fifth graders played on the AHS football field.
The March Madness game uses a unique sequence to maximize participation. The game consists of four 5-minute quarters, with Arcadia High students serving as coaches and referees. This year’s teams were the Suns and Sun Devils, each consisting of 10 boys and 10 girls. During the first and third quarters, the boys play the boys.
In the second and fourth quarters, the girls play the girls, with the players rotating for each quarter. To provide some additional excitement to the festivities, Tavan students sang the National Anthem before the start of play and team line-ups were introduced prior to the start of each quarter.
A lot of planning and collaboration goes into hosting the event each year.
This year’s event coordinators, Tavan physical education teachers Sharon Reed and Michael Germain, started by enlisting fifth graders to sign up for event. After interested students sign up, they verify each student’s academic status with their teachers and then get a final authorization from the administration. Once the students are signed up to play, Reed and Germain work with AHS to secure the gymnasium, student “coaches” and “referees.”
“The students from the boys’ and girls’ Arcadia basketball team were a tremendous help. During quarter breaks and halftime, they provided entertainment trying to make a half-court shot, slam dunking and dancing at center court. They also were leading cheers during the game, which created a very genuine game time feeling,” Germain said.
“We really enjoyed the energy in the gymnasium created by the student body from Tavan, and our students/faculty had a wonderful experience. The Arcadia High basketball team did a great job adding to the atmosphere and the enjoyment of the event,” Germain said.
The Sun Devils won by a score of 14-13, with a last-second basket made by Tavan’s Selena Ariza.