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Fallon Middle School’s Athletics Program Brings Cricket to Student Sports

January 22, 2018

DUBLIN, CA–Over the years, OneDublin.org has been exposed to the inventive Physical Education team at Fallon Middle School. Recently, we have showcased the Swing Dance competitions and a module on the traditional Philippine dance of “Tinikling”. On an overcast Friday in late December, we were introduced to the progress of the cricket program at Fallon. An afternoon which most families would be finalizing plans for Winter Break, a number of students descended upon the blacktop with a different mission in mind.

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We were met by Eric Lamonica, Athletic Director at Fallon. Adjoining him were two dozen students that organized their equipment and set up the “pitch.” As defined, the sport of cricket is a bat and ball game played between two teams of eleven players. The competition has some similarities to American baseball in that each phase of play is call an inning and the objective for the offensive team to score as many runs as possible. However, there is a radical difference in the duration of the two sports. While the outcome of a baseball game is usually decided upon in nine innings, cricket takes a different path. Twenty-20 can be played over a few hours with each team having a single inning of 20 overs (120 deliveries). Conversely, Test matches are played over five days, often with unlimited overs and the teams playing two innings apiece.

So, how did this evolution occur at FMS? Mr. Lamonica noted that the sport came to Fallon four years ago. A dozen boys had expressed their interest in starting a club. It started out modestly as a once a week after school activity with simply cricket bats and a tennis ball. Less than a year later, the enthusiasm quickly grew and the program expanded to two teams with 15 participants each. Two parent volunteers, Chandu Krishnagiri and Suresh Reddy, promptly stepped forward to provide their passion and expertise to guide these young players. The growth of this specific program took flight when Fallon fielded two teams in a first Inter-School Cricket Tournament in the Tri-Valley under the organization of Cricket for Cubs (CFC). The inertia grew in the third year as tryouts were necessary as 70 male students tried out for the teams.

But the most significant marker of change to the program occurred in the fall. Over 100 students showed up for try-outs. But for the first time, FMS had enough female athletes to field an all-girls team. During the Winter Tournament, one of the Mustang teams won a championship trophy. Equally impressive, the girls’ team won a match which represented the determination invested by all of the students. We reached out to Eric to gain his reflections on this fascinating journey and he was more than happy to share.

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OneDublin.org: As one that is somewhat new to the sport, how did you become familiar with the rules and nuances of cricket?

Eric Lamonica: “Coming from a baseball background, I had always been interested in the game of cricket. I knew the basic positions, but that was about the extent of it. I started out by researching the sport online, and watching videos on YouTube, like you would expect. But as a kinesthetic learner I got a much clearer understanding of the game when I asked a group of students who were familiar with the game, and who had played cricket from a young age, to teach me during our Academic Prep period. It was fantastic! I would play a modified game of cricket once or twice a week with a group of students, and they would teach me as we played. With every game, I would learn something knew about the sport. I then got my ‘Masters’ in cricket when I asked group of parents, led by Chandu Krishnagiri and Suresh Reddy, to lead a tutorial for the P.E. staff during our collaboration hours. They were leading the Fallon Cricket Club at the time, and as a staff, we planned to introduce cricket as a unit into our P.E. curriculum the following year.”

OneDublin.org: As an Athletic Director and Teacher, what was the significance of forming the first all-girls cricket team at FMS?

Lamonica: “I couldn’t be more excited to have the first all-girls’ cricket team at FMS because it shows the quick growth our cricket program has made in the last four years. Starting as a club with a handful of students, to now having four teams including the all-girls team is amazing. It really shows the amount of interest our community has for the game of cricket, and gives us an idea of what the league could look like in the future. Having the girls’ team shows our students here at Fallon that anyone can play the game of cricket and play at a high level.”

 

OneDublin.org: Please articulate what your parent volunteers have meant to the development of this program.

Lamonica: “Our cricket team could have never started without our school community’s amazing parent support. Chandu Krishnagiri is a volunteer who started the Cricket Club and helped to get the cricket team off the ground in the first two years. Suresh Reddy is not only our team’s current coach, but also a champion for cricket in the Tri-Valley area. Without them volunteering their time, donating equipment, organizing events, and promoting cricket at our school, Fallon couldn’t have the type of program we have today.”

OneDublin.org: How do you see this program expanding in the future?

Lamonica: “I hope to see the game of cricket expand throughout the Tri-Valley. The sky is the limit with how far Cricket can go in our community, with youth recreation leagues to seeing High Schools field teams as well. Those same boys that came to me four years ago are now at Dublin High where they have started Cricket Club. Currently, cricket is starting to be introduced into the P.E. curriculum in several Tri-Valley schools. Hopefully, schools in the TVAL (Tri-Valley Athletic League) will see the same interest to form teams that we have seen here at Fallon.”

While the origins of cricket are probably in south-east England, its popularity has spread through Ireland, Australasia and southern Africa. However, the sport is wildly popular in India. We commend the Physical Education team at Fallon Middle School for their continued commitment to embrace and foster innovative programs for all of its students. Go Mustangs!

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