Ryan Hawaiian

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 06 2010


À cœur vaillant rien d’impossible.
Nothing is impossible for a willing heart.

La coeur … French translation: ‘the heart’. I am a little bit disappointed in myself that this is only my second blog post, my first and only post having been nearly 5 months ago, but sometimes you need just the right inspiration to hit before you can get back into something. Sure, a great deal has happened in my experience with Teach for America in Hawaii within these last 5 months, but it all can be summed up in one word … HEART. Reflecting on the past thus far, looking at the present, and contemplating the future has led me to see so much HEART. My kids have HEART. My fellow Corps Members have HEART. Other teachers have HEART. But the spark that ignited the fire to get on here and blog again is the community in which I have been placed, Waialua. If there is one advantage that these kids have over their more privileged peers here on the island or elsewhere … it is HEART. THESE KIDS HAVE SO MUCH HEART.

This past weekend was the school’s Homecoming Weekend- considered by most to be the single biggest event within the Waialua community every year. Homecoming Weekend begins every year on Friday after school with the homecoming parade. As a teacher, I was expected to, and excitedly joined in the festivities not really sure what to expect. The parade was complete with marching students, teachers, class floats, and the homecoming court for each grade riding along in mustang convertibles! The streets of this small community were lined with cheering residents as we made our way toward the school. The night ended with a school pep rally, bonfire, and concert with the football game to be held the next day.

In addition to my role as a teacher at Waialua High School, I have also been working with the Boy’s Varsity Football team as Wide Receivers Coach. GO BULLDOGS! We started off our season with a record of 2-3 and faced off against the undefeated #1 ranked Pearl City Chargers. The game was a must-win for us to clinch a playoff birth as only the top 4 of 8 teams make the division playoffs. The Chargers had a duo of talented running backs racking up 200+ yards per game, but if our talented linebacking corps played their A-game we could shut it down.

Kickoff was at 7PM and the whole town was there, the atmosphere was electric! We were absolutely the underdogs and ready to put up a fight. First play of the game from scrimmage … WAIALUA INTERCEPTION … TOUCHDOWN! We were up 7-0 early. The game was a battle back-and-forth showcasing our hard-hitting defense VS. their offense. We found ourselves down 21-14 with only 5:00 remaining in the 4th quarter with Pearl City threatening to score again. With 3:00 left one of our linebacker’s CW took a 50 yd interception for a TD to tie the game!!! With our team of 3o players toughing it out on both sides of the ball and Pearl City running a deep bench with a roster of around 75 players, it was the HEART of these kids that was keeping us in the game.

In the end, we got the ball back with around 2:00 left to go for the W. Driving, driving, driving … by God we were going to win. Our offense put our kicker KR in position to attempt a 48 yd field goal to win the game. Having injured his leg during the first quarter it was going to be a challenge, but definitely within his range. The crowd was rocking, I felt as though I was in the middle of a Disney movie where he was about to be hoisted on the other player’s shoulders. The ball was snapped … BOOM! … it had the line but something about the trajectory was not right. The line judge signaled that the ball had been tipped as it come falling to the ground about 5 yards shy of clearing the uprights, NO GOOD.

From there, time expired and we entered OT, college football style, where we would lose as we failed to put the ball in the end zone while Pearl City converted on their possession. Tears streamed down many player’s faces in disappointment, but we coaches all agreed that there was no shame in this loss. THESE GUYS PLAYED WITH HEART.

After the game, several seniors gave heart-filled speeches about the opportunity that they jut had and how to move forward. I experienced a feeling of extreme pride in these young men that I had not often experienced. Something inside of myself changed that night, even though I had not yet realized it at the time. The HEART that these players showed me was completely representative of everything I am looking to accomplish with TFA. To make a difference, to put it all on the line, to inspire others to achieve greatness.

As I work to teach, to coach, to learn, to live this year … I will do it with HEART. I looked at quotes to carry me through this year and will be certain to carry this french proverb. À cœur vaillant rien d’impossible. Nothing is impossible for a willing HEART.

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