This is my UC Prompt 2 personal statement. I might consider this for the Common App under "topic of your choice". I hope you can tell me if this piece is effective in answering the prompt. I'd appreciate your comments and suggestions. Thank you.
Happy 4 days after Thanksgiving,
Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud, and how does it relate to the person you are?
"Thank you, Mr. Holland!" the large banner of the student's gratitude shouted within the confines of the 60 inch projector screen. While Shannon, my seatmate, thought I was watching Mr. Holland's Opus critically with the rest of our Lit through Film class, all along I was in a theater inside me, enjoying memories of my own similar to Mr. Holland's.
In July 2009, one of the Indian folks I played basketball with on sunny Saturday mornings approached me after an exhausting run. "Hey, Roy, remember you said you could teach the boys how to play basketball?" Mr. Aravind, the tall, respectable Indian father reminded me. Quite frankly, I did say I taught basketball; and, by "boys", my elderly companion meant their kids-his and the other Indian fathers' young 4th graders. Seeing as I already had a clear idea of my objective as a coach, I began soon the following Monday.
Just as an artist paints with vibrant colors to deliver his message appealingly to an unknown audience, I knew basketball was a means for me to build character in my students. There had been increasing complaints around our conservative community about a deteriorating sense of respect among the youth. Similarly, it grew more interestingly apparent that, while they better spent their free time playing basketball, these kids were arrogant and cause a lot of trouble. I frequently come upon these boys at the court with their parents. The expressions of stress and disappointment on the mothers' faces proved my assumptions right.
I assumed a lot of things about these 4th graders; however, I did not assume they were still docile. On one session, Tegias, my star student, and the less-skilled D were playing one-on-one. Tegias, who was taller and quicker than D, hardly needed any effort in shooting the ball or driving by his opponent. D, on the contrary, could do nothing more than to defend vainly. I sympathized for the poor fellow. After another victory for Tegias, I called time-out, pulling the game winner aside.
"Buddy, have you heard of 'thinking win-win' before?" I asked in a smiling whisper. The boy swung his innocent little head sideways; he had no clue what it was.
"It's like this: when you already know your own abilities, you don't have to prove anything to anyone. See, both you fellas can have a really good time if you let him win. You know you're already good at this, so, essentially, you've won already! If you let him win, you'll both be winners, right?"
"Ok, coach, I'll try it out." Tegias nodded cheerfully, returning afterward to his game with D. After the session, the two friends left the court feeling rewarded. For the first time, D told me, "That was a great run, Coach R!"
The following Saturday, Tegias came with his father to our usual morning sports activity. After another tiring full-court game of 16 points, the young man approached me and said something of quite the surprise.
"Hey, Roy, I tried that win-win thing when I played with my other friend at the courts by the middle school. It was different this time because we didn't fight afterward. I don't know...I thought I'd just tell you... Thanks, coach!"
Now, as I was watching the closing scene of the inspiring film on the screen, I was not envious of Mr. Holland who received the world's attention for his grand contributions to his students. "Thanks coach" was enough for me. Besides, it was only the first step. However, that definitely was a giant leap for the youth in my community.
The subject of this essay concerns me. Rather than teaching the less skilled player how to throw correctly or inviting him to one-on-one coaching sessions, you told the other kid to let him win. I'm not criticizing you, since I'm sure this isn't what you're trying to say, but my point is that I'm not sure what you are trying to say- about your coaching method and, most importantly, about yourself.
You do have a very nice ending, but before you use it as a common app, add more context. I don't know what Opus is about, and there's a chance your reader won't know either. Granted, they could Wikipedia it, but add a sentence or two of background. You hit on this a bit at the end with "Mr. Holland who received the world's attention for his grand contributions to his students.", but move it to the beginning.
Hope that helps!