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University students find leadership in coaching

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by Heather Baxter
Assistant Sports Editor

Many students at the University of La Verne take on extra responsibilities, including athletics, clubs, organizations and community service projects.

But, there are those who take on even more than that. For some students at La Verne, they are students, activists and coaches.

Senior Victor Garcia, a history major, is the freshman football head coach at Corona High School.

Garcia, who is a member of Phi Delta Theta, a former ULV football player and a track runner, has coached for three years, beginning his coaching career as a volunteer at Garces High School in Bakersfield over the summer.

“It was something that I always wanted to do,” said Garcia. “I wasn’t always the biggest of players and I wanted to make use of my football talent.”

One of La Verne’s assistant coaches first brought up the idea of working at Corona High School to Garcia.

Because Garcia is coaching students that are often close in age to himself, he feels that it is necessary to establish boundaries early.

“First of all, I have to make sure that I’m an authoritative figure out there,” he said. “They have to see me as a coach. On the field, I’m a coach. Off the field, I’m a coach.

“After season is when I become their friend.”

Setting the tone is essential to creating the boundary between himself and his players, says Garcia. It is important to make sure that the rules are set and understood, he says, because otherwise players will begin to “slack off.”

Although he acknowledges that it is hard to get his players to respect him, as the age difference is nominal, he says that “[My players] would say that there isn’t anything they wouldn’t do for me if I asked them.”

Currently, Garcia’s team is 6-2, although he is quick to say that they will improve their record shortly.

His coaching philosophy is short and succinct, which is why he feels that it is so successful.

“One hundred percent, 100 percent of the time. Ask no more and accept no less,” said Garcia.

Garcia hopes to parlay this job into a long term position and sees himself coaching high school football in the future.

Another La Verne student who has stepped into a coaching role is senior Shellie Etheridge. She currently works at the City of La Verne teaching gymnastics to children ranging from ages three to 15.

Etheridge, a former cheerleader, the ASF Accountant, an Orientation Week Leader, a former Resident Assistant, a member of Phi Sigma Sigma, College Panhellenic Association Vice President and a Commuter Activities Programmer, started coaching gymnastics six years ago. A friend of her mother offered her a position teaching a cheerleading summer camp when she was 15.

After the management saw how she handled the children, they offered her a position teaching gymnastics at The Little Gym in Upland when she turned 16.

“They basically trained me to teach recreational gymnastics, which is a lot of fun, fun and games, but still a lot of skills,” said Etheridge. “But, there is not nearly as much stress because it is not as competitive.”

She did this for about two years, until the closing of The Little Gym forced her to seek other employment.

After her first position, Etheridge spent two years coaching gymnastics at a competitive gym called Precision Gymnastics in Rancho Cucamonga. She left Precision because of management problems and difficult scheduling.

Her current job, with the City of La Verne, finds her spending three nights a week teaching eight different classes at Veteran’s Hall.

“Now I’m teaching for the City of La Verne,” said Etheridge. “I got that job because one of my [Phi Sigma Sigma] sisters saw an ad in the Career Development Center. [The City] was looking for a coach and I had taken a year off. When she told me about it, I looked into it.”

Senior Amy Morrison, a psychology major, spends a good chunk of her free time as the coach to an 18-and-under recreational, fast-pitch softball team in Chino.

Morrison herself has played softball since she was a child. She has coached others for four years, the last three of which have been in the 18-and-under league with which she currently works. Her first year was spent coaching a recreational 14-and-under team.

“I was a junior in high school the first time I coached,” said Morrison. “My sister, actually, was on the team, and I had known the coach from previous team that I had played on. She asked if I would be willing to help out with the team and I said sure.

“I was just one of the assistants, one of the people who made sure that everyone was lined up, warm-up all the pitchers, take infield, that kind of stuff.”

With her current team, Morrison is responsible for base-coaching, giving pitching signs, creating the lineup, warm-ups for the game, including soft-toss, and making sure that everyone is given a “fair and equal shot to play.”

“I don’t see any long-term goals, although I really enjoy coaching,” said Morrison. “In the future, when I start teaching, I would like to start out as an assistant for one of the high school teams, maybe working up from there.

“I want to stay involved somehow if I’m not coaching recreational [softball].”

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