Martin Jensen (left), a basketball player from the Oure School in Denmark, meets his Division Avenue counterpart and host Jacob Hicks.
The Division High School Boys Basketball Team may have defeated a visiting squad from Denmark in the Blue Dragon's season opener, but from a learning perspective everyone involved was a winner.
While Division notched a 63-53 win over the sports-oriented Oure School, the cultural exchange afforded the players and their coaches transcends what happened on the court. Shortly after the Oure players arrived - including a female contingent who scrimmaged with the Lady Blue Dragons - an informal introductory meeting was held in Division's auditorium. Then the visitors were paired with counterparts who would be their hosts for the school day as well as after the game, when they left with Division players and spent the night at their homes.
"When you're 16 or 17 years old, you generally don't realize how different the lives of people from other countries can be," Division Coach Don McKay said. "This will open the eyes of all involved and everyone will come away having learned something."
It didn't take long for one of Oure's players, Martin Jensen, to learn something from his first trip to the US, "I like it here, it's nothing like I heard it would be," he said, adding, "I thought there would be gun fights all over the place like in the movies!" His Levittown host, 10th-grader Jacob Hicks, said "It's fun to get a chance to find out the kinds of things they like and what they think about."
Division High School Assistant Principal Robert Tymann said the visit "is an opportunity to help prepare our students for the 21st century. The 'global economy' is a fact of life - someday these students will probably be doing business with each other."
The cultural exchange was arranged by McKay and Stan Killner, a former Long Island high school coach who now does color commentary for games broadcast on cable television and runs basketball clinics around the world. "We've brought (players from this school) to Long Island for the past four years and Don, who's a real proactive coach, said to keep him in mind," Killner said.