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From classroom to court: Teacher-coaches serve up guidance

By Aaron Dalton Apr. 7, 2022

Julia Nakanishi Photo

While most of their colleagues leave campus after the school day wraps up, several staff members head to the athletic facilities as coaches. They serve a dual role: academic teachers as well as sports coaches. The positions of teacher and coach may have drastic differences, but they share the similar purpose of helping students to achieve their personal best.

Patrick Stoltz, English Department, serves as the head coach of the Girls’ and Boys’ Varsity Tennis teams. Stoltz started playing tennis recreationally after college and found that he enjoyed the sport. Seven years ago, after a last-minute change to the tennis coaching staff for the school’s team, Stoltz stepped in to be the head coach, even though he had never coached before. Stoltz found that he enjoyed the job and has become a fixture in the school’s tennis team. To this day, Stoltz applies some of the skills he uses in teaching towards his role as a coach to help athletes train and improve their skills.

“For me, coaching is a way to meet new students and play more tennis. One of the advantages to being a coach and a teacher is that it is often easier to bond with students as their coach because the athletic environment is more casual. When I have a player as a student in one of my classes, I already have built a relationship with them on the tennis team, so they know me and they feel more comfortable asking me for help,” Stoltz said.

While coaches and players have the opportunity to form a close relationship, Stoltz stresses that as a teacher, he upholds professional standards and always maintains an appropriate demeanor, even on the court. His students who are on the tennis team feel that the relationship they have with their coach outside of the classroom helps them to feel more positively about their academics. The head coach of the school’s badminton team, Annie Larks, English Department, played the sport throughout high school and then coached for two seasons during college. Her past experience gives her perspective on the demands student-athletes encounter.

“Because I am also a teacher, I have a true understanding of what an athlete’s workload is like at school so I can be flexible to support students. The strategies I use in the classroom apply to coaching as well. For instance, I break down skills into small sections for students to learn. Therefore, students and athletes can process the information step by step,” Larks said.

Nationwide, the exact number of high school teacher-coaches is unknown, according to Dan Schuster, the director of coach education at the National Federation of High Schools; however, the number is declining partly due to increased responsibilities for both roles. Dr. Ferman Konukman, Department of Kinesiology, Sport Studies and Physical Education at State University of New York, and colleagues have conducted research that suggests that educators who also have coaching duties experience higher levels of burnout and job stress. However, the positive impacts of having adult mentors for adolescents have been widely recognized. A recent study from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California Los Angeles about the influence sports coaches have on high school students implies that this relationship has the potential to shape positive self concepts and reduce risk-taking behaviors.

Beyond the school, movies and television series have often highlighted the powerful bond between coaches and students. For example, actor Jason Sudeikis based his series “Ted Lasso” on his own high school math teacher and basketball coach, Donnie Campbell, who said that getting to know students and learning to embrace mistakes were important to both his roles as a teacher and a coach.

A large part of teaching involves coaching students to be motivated to do their best academic work. Similarly, coaching requires the ability to teach athletic skills and techniques. The few staff members that fulfill both of these roles benefit students by developing mentoring relationships and challenging them to be their best.


About the Contributors

Aaron Dalton

Staff Writer

Aaron is a freshman at Leland high school. He is a staff writer for the Charger Account. In his free time, He likes to play basketball with his friends, eat Chick-Fil-A, and travel.

Julia Nakanishi

Photo Director

Julia Nakanishi is a junior at Leland High School and the photo director for The Charger Account. She spends her free time taking photos with friends, playing video games and listening to music.

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