Three second graders bounce into a large, white gymnasium and plop onto the gray carpet at Chance Elementary School in Centralia.
“Coach, are we playing soccer again?” one girl asks.
Another student chimes in, “Yeah, Coach Reeves, are we?”
“We sure are,” says Bob Reeves, a physical education teacher, while glancing down at the squirming students.
Another group of students skip in the room, dancing in circles with their arms flailing.
“All right,” Coach says, and explains the day’s activities. One boy plays with his shoelaces and another makes soft monkey sounds.
In this class, soccer is a three-on-three indoor game, played with a bright red kickball and four short cones to mark the boundaries of each 12-foot-wide goal.
“Get in your teams,” Coach says.
The students jump up from their Indian-style sitting positions and dash to one side of the room. Two teams of students line up along opposite walls in the gym.
As the students sit against the wall in a haphazard row, Coach walks by, points to them and assigns each a team number.
“Alright. Ones, twos, threes!” Coach shouts, and the players take their spots next to their goals.
He grabs the bright red kickball and places it on the carpeted floor in the center of the gym.
Tweet! Coach blows the whistle.
Thump! One boy kicks the ball across the room.
Boom! The ball is kicked again, in the opposite direction.
The children turn around, and follow the ball again across the other side of the room.
“I wish I had half the energy they do,” Coach Reeves says from the sidelines.
The students waiting to play burn their energy on the sidelines.
Three girls bounce up and down, giggling and hugging each other as their team’s ball gets closer to the goal.
One young girl stares up at the corner in the room, dazed in her own happy imagination.
The game continues for 25 minutes.
Coach tweets his whistle again and warns the class there’s only one minute remaining.
“Ahhh…” the students whine, not wanting the game to end.