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YIS Parent and Middle School Coach

Back in Texas, when YIS parent Richard Murray worked with at-risk youths at an adolescent crisis center, developing and encouraging perseverance was an on-the-job necessity. It helps him here in the gym, interacting with our sports teams as a coach as he strives to instil those same values in his players. "When we're on the court, the focus is on competing and giving your best effort at all times," explains Richard. "We talk about how to give 100% all the time and to do it with enthusiasm - to be enthusiastic not only when you're playing but also when you're not playing, to show enthusiasm with your teammates. One of the things I say quite a bit: 'not everyone can be a great player, but everyone can be a great teammate'."

Richard enjoys being a team player in the YIS community, coaching both girls and boys middle school basketball and girls middle school volleyball this year. As Richard explains, "growing up, I was the typical American kid, playing American football, baseball and basketball. In high school, I focused on football after ninth grade like many boys in Texas do. In general, most of my interactions were through sport. In my peer group, since all my friends played sports, most of the adults that I knew well, I knew through sports. It was very natural to me, after I had kids, to jump in and start coaching." Richard coached in the States for six years before coming to Japan, but with two masters degrees -- one in Marriage and Family Counseling and one in Religious Education -- he's long been focused on teaching collaboration; in other words, the team spirit. "How do I become a good teammate? What do I do when I'm on the bench, how do I keep in the game and keep interacting with my teammates? I try to focus on helping kids learn these life-lessons at the same time they are learning to try their best," Richard explains. "We also talk a lot about leadership, especially with the 8th graders. What does it look like to be a leader on the basketball court, in the classroom? How do you treat people, both on and off the court? How do you make sure everyone feels included?"

Now with his family settled into their second year in Japan, where Richard's wife, Christina, works for Nissan Motor Corporation and their two sons Trey (grade 8) and Jack (grade 6) attend YIS, Richard has been a stay at home dad since a cross-country move in the States five years ago. "When we moved from Texas to Tennessee we thought that was a foreign assignment," Richard laughs, "but yes this is our first experience living outside the States, our first time in Asia. It was quite a leap of faith, coming to Japan." Getting involved helps, and Richard feels he gets back as much as he gives in coaching: "Seeing the progression of skill is great, because by the time the season ends, you have a completely different player. You can't underestimate a player's potential to grow and learn. What you see on day 1 is not what you'll see on the last day of the season."

For Richard, team is really just another name for community. "For us, moving from the States, we were nervous about how the kids would do in school, what school would be like. Both of our kids now certainly prefer being here at YIS than their schools in the States, and I think it speaks to the community here in general. Specifically the teachers and the administration, they make everyone feel so welcomed. It means a lot to my kids that the principals know their names and say hello to them. Teachers are invested in the kids, invested in the community. I'm not taking anything away from teachers in the States, but teachers here have also moved across the world, and it takes a certain amount of dedication and investment towards education and in this community especially. The boys really feel supported here."

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