Hoop dream

By Yang Lan Source:Global Times Published: 2014-12-8 17:28:01

Perseverance and hard work make British basketball coach’s aspirations a reality

When the Global Times met Jayme Lawman, his quiet, serious demeanor initially made it difficult to picture him in his new role as master of ceremonies (MC) for the Shanghai Sharks Basketball Club. But as soon as he gets talking about basketball, it is clear from the passion in his voice that this multilingual British basketball coach is the ideal person for the job of hyping up the crowds at Sharks games.

It is this passion and knowledge that helped him become head basketball coach at Shanghai High School International Division (SHSID). Confident and proficient, he passes his skills onto young players, while also helping instill other values that will serve them in other aspects of their lives.

Jayme Lawman from the UK is now the head basketball coach at Shanghai High School International Division, and the MC for the Shanghai Sharks. Photos: Yang Lan/GT and courtesy of Jonathan Gao

Lawman was born in 1990 in Northampton, England. Basketball has been a big part of his life since he was 12 years old.

"I cannot remember any of my teachers' names from high school, but I remember all the basketball coaches and all my teammates," Lawman told the Global Times. "Basketball taught me the basic skills that I could use for my whole life, such as punctuality and discipline."

Lawman discovered China's passion for basketball during a six-week vacation in 2005. While visiting the country, he played basketball with friends and new acquaintances in Shanghai, Xi'an, Suzhou and Beijing.

Seeing so many basketball courts and players, he decided to come to China to be a basketball coach. He went back to the UK and completed his training, before arriving in Shanghai in 2008.

The first barrier he met in China was language, so he started to learn Chinese at the Shanghai International Studies University while working part-time English tutoring jobs. Eager to learn Chinese, he was not happy that he had to speak so much English while teaching. However, to support himself, he continued with the job. As he got to know more about China and Chinese people, Lawman met the second barrier in realizing his coaching dream.


"In the West, if we like a sport, we want to train hard, learn the sport in depth and be part of a team. But here in China, people just want to play for fun. They do not want to play in five-on-five games," Lawman said. Discovering this was such a setback for him that he thought he would be unable to become a coach in China.

His Chinese improved, allowing him to get a job at Shanghai Television Station in 2010. At that time, his dream of becoming a coach seemed to be getting more and more distant.

"I used to peek through the gates of local schools. Kids were just playing basketball and shooting around with no teaching involved. I thought that maybe I had come to the wrong place to do the wrong thing," Lawman said.That was when he met the third barrier: local schools do not put much effort into physical education, not to mention basketball coaching.

All these barriers did not stop him from trying to teach basketball and bring the team spirit to the sport in China.

Western ideas



In 2012, Lawman found out about the Physical Education (PE) Department of the SHSID. The department hoped to bring Western ideas to its PE teaching, and it hired several foreign PE teachers. Lawman was one of them. While teaching physical and sport science to students, he had the idea of building varsity basketball teams.

So he began to recruit players for the basketball teams. Hundreds of students tried out for spots, and two teams were formed: SHSID Varsity team and SHSID Junior Varsity team.

"There is no other job that is more rewarding. I would jump in front of a car and take a bullet for my players. I give them a lot of tough love and it's not all smiles and high-fives, but I know that when they grow up, they'll look back on what they were a part of and remember it for the rest of their lives," Lawman said.

He teaches about two PE classes a day, and leads practices for the basketball teams every afternoon. When he is at home, he watches videos of previous games, records statistics, draws practice plans and researches basketball drills for the team. He is always sharing basketball videos and game results via WeChat.

To build a platform for students to meet and play games, Lawman created the Shanghai Schools Sports Association Basketball League, made up of six teams from different international schools in Shanghai. The teams play games regularly.

His hard work caught the attention of the Shanghai Sharks, who offered him a position as MC, as he is an expert in basketball and speaks fluent English, Chinese and Shanghai dialect. He now sits in on every Sharks home game.

Lawman takes the opportunity to learn more basketball techniques from the games he sees, which he then passes on to his varsity teams.

Lawman says he is not naturally talented in any field, and that he has achieved everything through hard work. But whatever the secret is to his success, it has carried him far.
Newspaper headline: Perseverance and hard work make British basketball coach’s aspirations a reality

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