Oxbow Teens Use Basketball as Therapy

Bill Pollock, Oxbow’s residential director, recently shared this essay written by an Oxbow student:

“Basketball to me is really important. I look forward to every Tuesday night where I get to go out on the court with four of my closest friends. The other ten are there supporting me from the sidelines.

“Being here at Oxbow gets quite stressful and annoying. I always look forward to playing basketball. I’ve noticed that it is a way to see other people’s true character. I find how teamwork really works.

“Being on the court there is no time to argue or blame shift a bad play to someone else. Sportsmanship actually goes a long way. Our team as individual players are not the best, yet when we work together there is nothing we can’t accomplish.

“In the tournament at Snow College we played in we won it all. We beat a team with kids bigger, faster and better than us. We beat them because of how good our team dynamic is. I applied what I had learned at Oxbow 2 during the game and treated other teams with respect. I felt like a normal kid being able to have the opportunity to play with other kids in the same community. I felt very accomplished when we won and I felt like I had something to hold on to.

“I realized that basketball is actually an analogy for life and the relationships in life. My mom is the center and will always retrieve the ball for me and really wants to be able to give me the best possible opportunity to be able to succeed. I am the point guard, I have to be able to set up the play, really I have to find trust with my family to be able to listen to what they say and know that it will help me and then make the decision to pass to them.  My brother is the shooting guard. He takes the shots. Really he puts trust in me to be able to set up a situation for him where he will succeed. My sisters are the small and power forwards where I have to be able to trust them that they will be able to succeed on their own knowing that I will always be there to support them and help them all the way. A family needs dynamic, just like how I have learned in basketball which really has helped me strengthen the relationships with my family.

“My friend Eli says, ‘It’s great to have a team with guys who have your back and work together with you.’ He feels that ‘everyone’s real personality comes out on the court.’ He says that basketball for him is a coping mechanism, lets him take his anger out. He struggles with his anger. Basketball reminds him of how life works sometimes and opportunity arises yet you don’t take it and later realized how big an opportunity it was and learned from his mistakes.  Also, how there is time when you get too aggressive  and have to take a timeout and spend some time on the bench, then you get a second chance and you use it to the fullest potential. ‘Just like this we have made some mistakes and our bench is Oxbow. Which helps us learn what we’ve done wrong and how when we are able to get back on the court (or life) we know not to make those mistakes again and we know what to do to succeed.’ He really uses basketball as a big picture reference of life.

“My friend Cameron says, ‘I like to be able to socialize with other people in the community who have good sportsmanship. He has learned how to work better as a team and with teamates. He likes being able to get time away from the house.

“My friend Naje says, ‘ Basketball helps me, gives me a chance to work with peers outside of therapy. It gives me an experience to stay fit and show that I am capable working with others who I don’t know which helps me build relationships.’

“Naje says he agrees with what I said about family. I feel that one day Naje may go and play on a college team.

“My friend Aaron says, ‘It’s a great way to release emotions and gain a better relationship with the opposite team. Also, basketball helps me stay away from negative behaviors and helps me know what true friendship and teamwork really is.’

“Basketball means a lot to all of us.”