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UCSB Fall 1968/ Spring 1969 & La Cumbre Junior High 1969 to 1973

I was fortunate to walk into a new program at UCSB, a minor in coaching. I was the first graduate of the program, mainly because my classes as a PE minor at Fresno State carried over. It was a very innovative program and looking back a very fine program. They covered all the bases, in many ways it was ahead of the times. Along with my coaching classes I took the required education classes in preparation for teaching in the classroom. The class that stood out was Educational Psychology, not so much for the content but because of the professor, Ruth Wilvert. She was a neat little southern lady who could really teach. She had knowledge, enthusiasm, passion and a real drive to make her student’s great teachers. As part of her class we did an observation that started in the morning at a traditional nursery school, followed by an observation at a Montessori school, then an elementary school, followed by a junior high school and culminating in the afternoon with an observation of a high school class. What an eye opener! It was a brilliant teaching tool to introduce us to the whole developmental spectrum. I distinctly remember after the junior high school observation thinking to myself that I would never want to teach that age group. The lesson here is never say never because one year later my first job was teaching junior high school!

Mrs. Wilvert was also my supervising teacher for student teaching. I loved her philosophy about testing: it was pretty simple she said that that the purpose of testing was not to find out what the students did not know but to find out what they did know. She emphasized that as teachers we should guide them to fill in the gap and build on what they knew. This not only helped me in the classroom, it carried over directly into my coaching. It was so much easier to teach and motivate when I started them on tasks that they could do. She was a very smart lady; I can still hear that southern drawl in my mind.

As part of the coaching minor there were some outstanding classes and professors:

Foundations of Coaching was by taught by Dr Art Gallon. He had been the basketball coach at UCSB and at one time had been an assistant to legendary basketball coach Pete Newell. He had a wealth of experience. Very much the wise man, a yoda like individual, He started each class with what he called platitude preachments. These were aphorisms that he used to set the theme for the day. One that sticks in my mind today and is particularly appropriate in today’s world of hype and marketing was” Beware of false prophets bearing gifts".

Foundations of Conditioning taught by Sherm Button. Coach Button was new to UCSB that year, he had been a high school track coach and teacher in Portland Oregon. What a class! You name it about conditioning the athlete, we learned it in that class. Our assignment was to prepare a year long training program for our sport. I poured my heart and soul into it, my program ended up over 100 pages long. ( I still have it in a file somewhere today) I realize that this assignment started me on a path to recording and writing out everything I did, a process I continue to this day it. It taught me about the necessity of planning and integrating all components of athlete fitness to make the complete athlete (Sound familiar?).

We were also required to take an athletic training class. The class was taught by Harry Callahan, the head athletic trainer. Harry introduced us to ice, cryotherapy, a whole new concept in 1969, everything up to then was heat, hot whirlpools and hot packs. What a difference that made with my athletes.  I learned how to tape, an invaluable skill that came in handy over the years. The skills I learned in this class helped me keep my athletes healthy, we did not have athletic trainers in the schools in California, coaches had to take care of their own athlete’s injuries.

Also had class in Sport Psychology taught by Dr. Bill Hammer. The textbook was Problem Athlete’s and How to Handle Them by Tutko and Ogilvie. That class was an insight into a dimension of performance that was unexplored at the time. Sport psych was a new field at that time.

In the spring of 1969 I did my student teaching and student coaching. I student taught modern US history to seniors at Santa Barbara high school. Some of the kids in the class were only three years younger than me, which made it interesting. In the afternoon I student coached track under head coach Bill Crow. What an experience. I coached the jumps (except for pole vault) and the shot put. On of my athletes, Sam Cunningham won the California Sate Championship in the shot put, a great tribute to Sam’s athletic ability, certainly not my coaching ability. Bill Crow taught me so much about leadership, organization, and motivation. He taught me how important it was to calm down (although it took me a long time to apply it). He taught me how important it was to be consistent in your approach, to be a rock, not all over the place.

My plan worked, I got a job in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. I taught eighth grade US History and seventh grade World Geography at La Cumbre Junior high school. I was in the chips now; my starting salary was $7,600. I was single and lived with my parents to save money. With my first paycheck I bought a Kodak M95 projector (It had the ability to reverse – it was state of the art at the time) so that I could watch Super 8 films. It cost $495.00, with my next paycheck I bought a Super 8 camera and I was on my way. I coached cross and track and trained for the decathlon.

My first year teaching I taught in the classroom, and the next three years I taught a combination of history and physical education. I also coached one season of football and basketball during that time. After my first eyar teaching I got married and I am still married to the same women forty years later. She is a saint to have put up with all my craziness! I was driven, actually borderline obsessed. My goal was to be a college coach. I also set a goal of scoring 6,000 points in the decathlon (nothing special, but for someone who did not compete in collegiate track it was reasonable). My typical day was a twenty-minute training session before teaching my first period class. Usually rope climb and some gymnastics. Second period, my free period, I did hill sprints. Between classes I had 15 minutes so I used that time to work on my throws. One break would be for shot put, the next for discus and the next for javelin. At lunchtime I looked at films of the events with the kids. After school I coached. When I was done coaching I drove out to UCSB, usually around 4:30 and trained for about 90 minutes, I did one field event, some hurdle work everyday and running. A couple of days a week I lifted weights after dinner. It was crazy, but I was young and driven to achieve my goals. Now looking back on this I don't know if I would have or could have done it any differently. I learned you could make big improvements with small concentrated and focused periods of training, a concept I still employ today. I did not achieve my goal of 6,00 points, I scored 5984 points in 1972, but I did achieve my goal of being a college coach. Looking back I never allowed myself to get comfortable, in the process I made people around me uncomfortable with my intensity and drive. I think I could have tempered this a bit and still achieved my goals. I probably still have not learned this lesson well.

In my next few post I am going to highlight a few events and people who helped me on my journey of learning.

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