Editorial: Salute to all school coaches, but especially to those who teachJournal readers last week may have read School Superintendent Tom Westerhaus’s column that addressed the declining numbers of teachers who double as coaches. This is a recent phenomenon and not unique to River Falls.
Journal readers last week may have read School Superintendent Tom Westerhaus’s column that addressed the declining numbers of teachers who double as coaches. This is a recent phenomenon and not unique to River Falls.
In this week’s Journal, the hot start of the high school boys basketball team is covered in sports and on the front page. Part of this story includes Greg Gaulke, also a teacher at Rocky Branch Elementary School, who notched his 400th and 401st victories during a coaching career that includes 24-plus years at River Falls and three at Cumberland.
Besides Gaulke, other school district teachers who’ve coached for long periods and led successful athletic teams include Shelly Kahut-Loomis (gymnastics) and Ryan Bishop (baseball). Not long ago, other respected teachers with notable coaching achievements were Dave Branvold (wrestling) and Lee Lueck (tennis).
Regarding Gaulke’s long tenure as both teacher and coach, Journal sports editor Bob Burrows said: “He seems to get the best out of his players. His teams are always competitive. He’s enthusiasm rubs off on the players. He’s obviously a great basketball coach, strategy-wise, and I think he’s a great teacher of the game as well.
“He’s just got a passion for the game and loves River Falls. He’s enthusiastic and the kids love him and respond to him.”
In his recent column, Westerhaus listed a variety of factors causing the decline of teacher-coaches, including: Schools (and teachers) now under more pressure to meet state classroom testing standards; minimal pay for the extensive time required to coach; in a struggling economy, some teachers or their spouses seek better paying part-time evening and weekend jobs.
While acknowledging the dedication of all who coach school teams, Westerhaus believes teachers offer special skills that go beyond winning and losing. Teachers as coaches are more apt to emphasize life-learning skills like citizenship, character development and cooperation. Because of their classroom experience, teachers usually can build and nurture a rapport with student athletes.
We think that teacher-coaches like Gaulke, and others in our school district, are very much worth recognizing.
In his column, Westerhaus cited his indebtedness to these teachers “who at the end of a long teaching day put on their ‘coaching hats’ and give their remaining energies to the satisfying act of mentoring a student athlete or actively participating in meeting his or her previously unknown or untapped potential.”
The Journal’s online poll question this week asked: All things considered — gifts, food and beverage, decorations, wrapping — how much do you spend on Christmas?
Early results: $600-$1,200, 33.3%; $300-$600, 25%; more than $1,200 and $100-$300, both 16.7%; Nothing, I’m broke, unemployed or feeling like the Grinch, 8.3%.
Add your vote by going to www.riverfallsjournal.com