From Class to Courtside—How This Teacher Pushes Student Athletes To Uncover Their Full Potential


When Karishma Hossain isn’t teaching Math Foundations or Project Lead The Way, she’s outside coaching the Titans, the boy’s basketball team of Ánimo James B. Taylor Charter Middle School. Hossain began this program last spring after coaching the sport for several years. We had the chance to learn what coaching means to Hossain and what playing a sport means to her student athletes. 

Question: What inspired you to start the basketball program at Ánimo James B. Taylor?

Hossain: I believe participating in team sports was an integral part of my own personal development as a child. I wanted our students to have more opportunities to explore their talents and interests and a space to develop the mindset that will take them beyond the classroom. I also watched the kids playing during lunch and didn't want them to miss out on [high school athletics] opportunities later on, so I decided to create a development program and coordinate games with other Green Dot California middle schools. 

What are your goals for the Titans?

Our team ends every practice and every game with the following mantra: "Day by day, we get better and better, till we can't be beat, won't be beat." If my students can walk away having internalized that they can show up every day, get better at something, and recognize that feeling of success within themselves, then all our goals can be met. I believe that we will continue to grow as a team and become more competitive, but most importantly, I want every student who plays on my team to start believing in themselves and their own goals.

What do you love about being a coach? 

I love seeing my students grapple with a challenge and push themselves beyond it until they feel a sense of success within. I love seeing my students build confidence and uncover their hidden potential by taking on different roles on the team. Some students are great assisters or defenders, some take on leadership roles and get the chance to find out what they are good at. Coaching allows me to facilitate this exploration of the self and witness the growth. I also want to give a shout out to my co-coach, Jeremy Pang, his support and commitment to the team/vision has been a huge part of our success!


How does basketball act as an outlet for your students?

In addition to the physical and mental health benefits of exercise, the mind-body connection is a powerful tool that can allow students to break through self-limiting beliefs, have fun, take on challenges within a safe framework, be social, and develop collaboration skills. Basketball is something students look forward to after school, their team holds them accountable to show up to school, gives them a sense of belonging, and gives them a feeling of pride when they improve. Basketball gives students a framework for personal development. Through consistent practice and effort, our goals can be achieved.


In regard to one of your last games against Ánimo Mae Jemison Charter Middle School, what went well? What does your team still need to work on?

Our team has a lot to work on. Being a part of a competitive league like FIYA exposes our students to the spectrum of skill levels out there, and pushes them to continue working on their own skills. Our team has come a long way and being able to play against a team like Ánimo Mae Jemison, allowed us to see our own improvement in terms of coordination, defense, and mindset. My team played hard until the very end, and did not let that loss keep them from showing up the following day and winning their very first FIYA league game against Ánimo Compton Charter School. The most fundamental thing I want my students to develop is mental tenacity, and that is what that game helped them practice. We are still working on our fundamental skills, but I know they held their ground that day and did not quit, which goes beyond the scoreboard.