Local Sports Hero

31 October 2016 Written by  By Michelle Lassle
Published in November 2016 Articles

Academics are crucial in preparing a child for their future, whether they want to be a teacher, engineer, or an astronaut.

While reading, writing, and arithmetic are still of the utmost importance in a child’s education, teaching them real life skills that can be used in the work force is equally as vital. Freedom High School already offered career pathways that prepare students for the police force, fire academy, and other vocations, but when Athletic Director Steve Amaro looked at the list of courses, he saw an opportunity for something more. “I was an English teacher first, and then in 2003 I became the athletic director,” Steve said. “As I was attending different professional opportunities intended to teach us how to be better directors, my teacher side kicked in and I thought, why not create a course where you’re working on the back office aspect of what it is to be athletics.”

Heritage High School had successfully offered an Athletics Management class in the past, but it wasn’t approved by the University of California as an elective credit. So Steve took a look at the course, finished up all of the requirements, and got it approved. “It might be the only course of its kind in the state,” Steve said. “We haven’t done anything like it because I started from scratch. A lot of schools throughout the state are all of a sudden adopting the course right and left. It’s pretty exciting.”

Taught by Athletic Trainer Glen Briggs, Athletics Management is offered to sophomores, juniors, and seniors with the main objective of teaching students how to work in the field of athletics in a way other than athletic participation. It covers marketing, guest relations, safety and emergency planning, successful use of video, broadcasting, and social media, amongst other things. How do you run a successful athletic event when you’re not the star athlete? How do you write your public relations manual? How do you schedule events, run fundraisers, manage an intramural or middle school program? Athletics Management addresses such questions and helps train students how to work in the world of athletics. “I realized there’s not much training in how to be an athletic director or how to become an intern somewhere like the Stockton Ports or Golden State Warriors,” Steve said. “We focus on the general history of athletics and the best practices out there.”
As part of the class experience, the students are able to get hands-on practice at Freedom’s athletic events, working four events per quarter. At Freedom’s Homecoming game earlier this year, Athletics Management students were put to work beginning at 2:00 p.m. Some were in charge of the placement of advertising banners, some welcomed the visiting team and directed them where to go, and some took tickets at the ticket booth. Others passed out credentials at the track and field gate, ran the scripts to the PA announcer, and manned the snack bar. Each of the 25 students had an important task to fulfill. “Helping with these tasks made the kids take more ownership of the school and created a lot of pride in showcasing Freedom to everyone else.” The element that sets this course apart from ones in the past is the academic aspect, which is what helped gain the “a-g” approval from the UC system. There is a textbook that has been implemented which explains the history of athletics and its current practices, and the course includes a written aspect. In addition to being out in the field directly, students are expected to create and deliver Power Point presentations and write two page responses on how the different events are executed. “They’re engaging in reflection on what things worked and what didn’t, and then having the accountability to go and write about it,” Steve said. “They have to decide what is their plan, how would they execute that plan, and what would they do differently if given the opportunity to do it again.” Students are also expected to have a B in Language Arts and a B in Algebra. “If I ask them to put together a spreadsheet or analyze a budget, they need to be able to do so.”

Ideally Steve would like to offer two Athletics Management courses that take place at the end of the school day. That would allow students to go directly to whichever event is happening that day to continue learning out in the field. “So far the buzz has been that the students want to take this class,” Steve said. “They’re starting to see that they can make a difference on campus, and they’re learning how athletics affects society. They’re able to think in a way where everybody wins. We’ll see where it grows from here. Who knows; it may even become an academy of its own.”

 

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