In the fall of 2009, our daughter came home from 5th grade with a flier about Destination Imagination. She REALLY wanted to do this program, and it sounded great to us. We attended the information session at the school, became even more excited about the program, learned there were several kids her age interested in joining a team, and then found out there were no open spots on any existing teams. After thinking about it for a few days, my husband and I decided to co-manage a team so our daughter could have this experience. We are a “DI Family” and have committed ourselves to this program as our top extra-curricular focus.
Our first year was full of amazing moments and trying times. We glowed with pride as the most fashion-forward team member conquered (and enjoyed!) construction skills, as the toughest football player on our team found a love for acting, and as the quiet introspective kid came up with the most amazing design (we won a special award for it!). We stuck with two team members who had a long-standing feud, and coached them through their issues week after week… Until they realized what a powerful combination they were on the team and stopped picking on each other. We dealt with our own failures as we learned how to coach a team of kids (especially challenging to parents of an only child).
The first year, the team came in first at Regionals (we were all shocked!) and 9th at State – not bad a all for our first time. The second year we came in first at Regional again, but really didn’t place well at all at State – which was devastating for the kids. However, their lowest scores had to do with team work, which is a great lesson to learn in 6th grade and not later in life. Rest assured we are focusing on how to handle team work under pressure THIS year!
We are now in our third year and have found our cadence as coaches. Our core values include fun, respect and effort. We teach skills, practice ICs and focus on a key aspect of the Central Challenge each week. At the beginning of every meeting we ask each kid to define where they fall on the following scale: 1 = I’m not able to focus much today, and will do my best not to distract the rest of the team. 2 = I’ve got my normal ability to focus and get things done. 3 = I’m completely fired up and am going to accomplish amazing things today! We often get at least one 1, mostly 2′s and one 2.5. No one has yet claimed to be a 3 (except the team managers!)… but we’re looking forward to the first time someone is brave and excited enough to cross that line!
We are thoroughly enjoying coaching a DI team each year, and are so glad we have persevered through the tough times. This year we both woke up the day of our first meeting with big grins on our faces, eager to jump out of bed and see what the kids would come up with for THIS year’s challenge!