Napa Valley Cricket Club member teaches the sport to Coyote Valley Elementary students



HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE, Calif. – What started as supply run for victims of the Valley fire last September came full circle recently as a Lake County elementary school hosted its first ever game of cricket.

Inspired by the good deeds of his club mates Caen Healy, a senior at Napa High School, arranged to put on a cricket match at Coyote Valley Elementary School as part of his senior project.

The story starts on Sunday morning, Sept. 13, 2015, when many in the Napa Valley woke to the news of the Valley fire.

Members of the Napa Valley Cricket Club learned that many residents from Lake County had been evacuated to the Calistoga Fairgrounds, where the club plays its games.

Through local members on the ground in Calistoga and social media it became obvious to the club that supplies were needed in Calistoga. While many people were making offers of items in various online social media conversations there was no way to get the supplies to where they were needed.

The cricket club hastily arranged a drop-off point in north Napa and got the word out about this via email, text and social media. By 2 p.m. that afternoon they had sent seven vehicles north to Calistoga with food and water supplies, blankets, sleeping bags, canopies, clothing, animal crates and much more.

Included in the supply run were care packages individually hand made by club member Emma Brown and these somehow made their way to the doorsteps of homes in Middletown after the fire had been quelled.

Some online sleuthing by one of these recipients, Middletown resident and Napa Valley Cricket Club Principal Shane Lee, led him to the club's Web site and a subsequent phone call to express his gratitude for their generous thoughts and actions.

Fast-forward a few months as Healy is working through his senior project at Napa High. “I was writing a paper for my senior project on 'Developing cricket in non-traditional markets' and I was looking for a way to do this locally.”

He added, “The Napa Valley Cricket Club is now well established here in the Napa Valley and has been very supportive in my efforts to found the Napa High Cricket Club, but I wanted to reach beyond that. They suggested I contact the folks up at Coyote Valley Elementary School and arrange to come visit and show them the game of cricket. And that’s what I did.”

Sixth grade teacher Jeff Herman jumped at the opportunity to expose his class to the game of cricket. Herman had himself been exposed to the game years ago while living in Stellenbosch, South Africa and knew about the etiquette of the game, and its traditions. In addition he wanted to expose the students to something new, to help broaden their minds and allow them to see, and play, the second most popular sport in the world.

Healy started in the classroom where he showed the students a video about cricket, especially for Americans, as it compares and contrasts cricket and baseball. A handout for each student allowed him or her a visual understanding of the game and prompted many interesting questions.

Healy passed around cricket balls and cricket equipment including his helmet, a bat, gloves, and pads so that the interested students could touch and feel real cricket equipment.

After the question and answer session it was time to head outside. The class was broken into three groups for practice drills: fielding (throwing and catching); bowling (think pitching in baseball); and batting. Once the basic skills had been mastered it was time for a game.


The class was then broken in two teams – the A’s and the Giants – and they batted in pairs for 2 overs (2 x 6 balls) while every student got a chance to bowl one over (6 balls). The game finished right as the buses pulled up to take the sixth graders home and all of them had been part of history having just played in the first ever cricket match in Lake County!

Healy took the structure for the day from a program run by Napa Valley Cricket Club President Phil Bourke at Vichy Elementary School, Napa, in 2015, which proved highly successful, and hopes to use it in the future as he is keen to continue to be an ambassador for the game he loves and has played for the last 11 years.

The equipment used on the day came to Healy from the United States Youth Cricket Association, based on the East Coast, which had generously sent two full cricket sets that Healy presented to the school so that the students could continue to play the game.

“It’s been a great experience coming to Coyote Valley Elementary School and watching the kids learn about the game of cricket, a game that I love. Cricket is growing in America and soon there will be a large program of outreach into schools all over the country so it was great to be part of that push to de-

mystify the game and show the kids how much fun it is as a game. Shane and Jeff at Coyote Valley Elementary School were great in accommodating me for this part of my senior project and I’m grateful to them for their time in getting everything arranged.”

Healy plans to continue his own cricket playing this year with the NVCC as they play 11 games over the course of 2016.

After graduation this June he plans to attend Napa Valley College before taking up a place at Boston University in their Economics program in the fall of 2017.