Valley Ranch Elementary School (VRE) Dads Club hosted a cricket tournament to raise funds for technology in the classrooms, but the experience also generated a greater sense of community among those who participated.
“The kids know each other, but the parents don’t meet often,” said Ravindar Korclapilli who has a child at the school, Amohila who is in second grade.
He said this activity provided them all a sense of community.
“That’s the whole purpose really,” said Doug Stephan, vice president of the VRE Dads Club. He has two children at the school, Cade in fourth grade and Zoe in kindergarten.
Stephan had never played cricket before, but he already knew a little about it because he investigated it to help organize Saturday’s game.
“Part of figuring out where we would have it, I looked up how big the field had to be, how far they hit the ball, and whether we could we actually do it here,” Stephan said. “I like cricket. I think in many ways, it’s more interesting than baseball is.
“In the real game, the field is round. There are so many different options where you can hit the ball.”
As Stephan spoke, another dad tipped a ball, and it went behind him.
“See, now he’s running,” Stephan said. “In baseball, that would be a foul.”
Many of the dads had played for universities in India.
“In a normal game, we would all have gloves and pads and helmets with faceguards,” said Korclapilli who played for University of Madras in India. “This is a tennis ball that we wrapped duct tape around. The real balls are almost solid like a baseball, and the bowler (pitcher) bounces it off the ground.”
“So it’s more unpredictable and can bounce into your face,” Stephen added.
“There are different kinds of bowlers,” Korclapilli said. “There are fast bowlers that run from far away and then bowls. And some are medium paced, just not as fast. The spin bowlers just take two steps and throw, but the ball will spin. The captain will keep changing the bowler so the batsman does not get used to it – keep them off balance.”
“In American baseball, the pitcher has to have all those pitches,” Stephen said. “They can’t just be fast ball pitchers, because pretty soon the batter will catch on. You have to have a curve ball too, or some other ball to keep them off balance. Here, you can switch the bowlers and do it.”
“There will be one player who is always good at fast, one that is always good at medium (pitches) and somebody who will always be good at spin, so the batsman stays confused,” Korclapilli said. “We are all just meeting for the first time, so this is just a fun game.”
Jesse Van Leuven, president of the Dads Club, coaches his sons’ baseball teams. He grew up playing baseball, and Saturday he learned to play cricket.
“It seems like there’s a little more strategy as to where you hit the ball,” Van Leuven said. “You can do that a little bit in baseball, but you can only go one way. In cricket you can tip it behind you on purpose, but that would be a foul ball in baseball.”
Van Leuven said he thought it made the game a little more interesting that everybody gets to bat before taking to the field, whereas in baseball, the team gets only three outs before returning to the field. He has three children at VRE: Jesse in second grade who plays baseball on the Coppell Giants (U9), Jake in Kindergarten and on the Cardinals (U6) in the Coppell Baseball Association, and a daughter Jenellin fourth grade.
Money raised Saturday will go toward more technology for the school. Van Leuven said he thought they raised over $1,300.
“Coppell ISD matches, so with the match, that’s $2,600,” Van Leuven said. “We also made $800 with our golf tournament. That’s another $1,600 with the match, so that will buy a lot of iPads and laptops or whatever it is we need.”