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Jill Dietrich (above right) with host family member, Eden.

Jill Dietrich (right) with Eden, a host family member.

UMD student coaches champs in Belize

From eNews, April 15, 2004

Jill Deidrich, a University of Minnesota, Duluth, education major, was asked to coach an elementary girls basketball team while doing her student teaching in Belize. Not only did she help the team win the spring 2004 southern district championship, they went on to become national champions. Deidrich's school, St. Peter Claver, represented the Toledo District at the Belize National Basketball Tournament. The district is one of six in the Central American country. "When we arrived in Orange Walk Town [where the tournament was held] we had a parade around the town," she says. "There was also an opening ceremony and cultural event where I got to see mestizo and garifuna dancers." During the tournament, Deidrich enjoyed observing the behavior of the Belizian girls in competition. "On the playing field, hardly any of the kids showed any emotion," she says. "[And] after winning, not even a smile." But the celebrations later on made up for this lack of emotional display. "One of the boys [from the school] tipped over a five-gallon bucket on the bus and started drumming," she says. "The kids danced Punta almost the whole way home. It was a five-hour bus ride, and they danced for four hours straight." The next day, Deidrich's school had a pep fest, in which the principals handed out the medals and trophies again. This event was followed by parade No. 2. "During the parade some boys got in the back of a Ford Ranger--the police truck--and drummed," recalls Deidrich. "With the drumming as a background, the teams and the whole school paraded around town cheering." A Belize radio station interviewed Deidrich following the town's festivities. "It was pretty neat," she says. "Not like a live radio interview back in the United States. We were just sitting at a kitchen table with microphones. I introduced myself, because the audience would know that I wasn't a Belizian because of my accent. I got to talk about UMD and Minnesota in general." Although it was fun, there was a downside to the radio experience. Deidrich thinks she was given too much credit for the championship title. "The radio announcer kept saying that I made the team win," she says. "I just told him that I didn't do anything accept push the team to work their best and not give up."

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