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Changing the Game

kids doing improv

You may not know this but puberty, and its hormonal aftermath, are difficult for tweens and teens - and it’s not just the chemical makeup. The expansion of the brain during puberty is the second greatest your brain will undergo in your life, outside of figuring out that the hand waving in your face is yours and you actually control it (babies are cute and stupid, am I right?!? “Don’t eat that – that’s your hand”). While this expansion will definitely see you grow and expand into the person you will be, by and large, everyone agrees that the physical changes take a mental toll. The self-awareness brings on a tremendous amount of self-consciousness and things about yourself that never bothered before you are now going to doom you to a life of solitude on par with Superman in his icy hinterland. Physical changes make you not want to say or do anything because it will be analyzed and ridiculed by your peers until you are in tears. ‘We got it – the middle school years (and around those years) are horrible! So what…? What’s that got to do with CSz…’ My daughter, Audrey, was running headlong into this cycle. The beginning of 6th grade was difficult as she struggled for self-confidence, identity and to find acceptance. To that end, I would tell you that Audrey is the poster child for why middle schoolers should be with CSz Middle School League. CSz teaches kids that no one is perfect, mistakes are to be expected, and not worry about it. Be brave anyway. That message WILL help every kid at that stage in life where they become most self-aware and self-conscious. CSz breaks those negative norms that middle school kids try to impose on one another. A CSz kid says, “Be negative if you want to. But nope, that's not MY world.’ At first, for Audrey, CSz was just her Friday escape from that world but then she began to realize that those same confidence-building skills she practices every Friday are life skills. She began to bring those practices into everything. Now, she’s teaching those skills. She generous, giving, and hard working as she’s gone from playing tennis to teaching tennis; from helping with plays to being in plays; and from being a good basketball player to being the best teammate.

Learning from Mistakes Improv is about making mistakes and learning from them. She teaches well because she teaches the kids to be brave and not worry about the mistakes. That lesson makes them enjoy the experience and that makes them listen better. The kids don’t worry about ‘best’ and ‘big goals,’ they get better because they’re moving forward.

Confidence Improv is about making it work on the fly and being comfortable in your own skin. Audrey knows there are better singers, dancers, actors, etc. but you would never guess it by how she strides on stage like a lioness through its own jungle.

Working Together Improv is not about being funny, it’s about making everyone else around you shine. The scene dies if everyone’s waiting for you to stop trying so hard. This translates. She used to be worried about her own points, rebounds, etc. in basketball but it’s all team now. Did my teammates play better as a team? Let’s face it – a ‘sick’ pass in basketball gets more attention than any jump shot. “Okay, I get it,” you’re probably thinking. “You love your kid and you’re proud of her.”

I am. But, please understand. I was proud of her before CSz. Audrey’s transformation through CSz has little to do with me… I can tell her I love her and I am proud of her until I am blue in the face. But parental encouragement is only going to have a marginal effect on the tweens in our lives. I love CSz because they helped get Audrey to show the world who she is and how proud she is just to be her.

Don’t underestimate that significance!! It’s a game-changer!!

Greg Sparrow has been a Minor League Player at ComedySportz® since 2016.

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