Featured photo Vally Perry, Foreign Language Teacher, selected as the Honorary Coach for girls Cross Country team during their 2017 season.
“I have a new appreciation for our students‘ level of dedication both to academics and athletics as well as their love of Randolph School…In fact, I ended up attending more games and am glad to have made new connections with students, parents, and the school as a whole.” – Patricia Kuhn, Dean of Student Research and Library Resources
Statements such as the one above are the driving force behind the goals of the Honorary Coach Program here at Randolph School. Randolph is a very close-knit community, and the relationships that have been built between academics and athletics is very strong, but in other areas of the country there often seems to be an ever-growing gap between these two worlds. A major goal of this program is to not let that happen in our own community. It is not about simply asking – or even worse, requiring – more from our faculty and staff, it is about maintaining and strengthening the bridge that already exists. At Randolph, the mantra often used is One Randolph. However, for that to be more than simply a nifty catch-phrase, we have to work to make it a reality – and we do. The Honorary Coach Program is another provided opportunity for this to occur and the rewards have been witnessed by many.
The parameters of the program are straight forward, and are student driven. At the beginning of each season the Athletic Department “opens up” the selection process for the Honorary Coach Program. Each team will make two selections of who they would like to be their honorary coach. We ask for two because we do recognize the importance of our faculty and staff members time and we want to respect it. We want them to know that if the timing is poor, it is okay to say they cannot participate. The hope is that both selections do not say no. Once the faculty or staff member agrees, an agreement is made regarding which practice and which competition the faculty or staff member will attend. It is intentional that we make sure to communicate that each team’s selection can be a member of the faculty or administration, but can also be a staff member – someone who works in the cafeteria, or is a part of our facilities crew, etc. We had a good mix of this through one year, and so far, it looks like we will have a good mix again. To keep everything balanced the most important rule we have is that each staff or faculty member can only be selected once throughout the year. This allows for more faculty and staff members to be selected over the course of the year.
The goal of the honorary coach program is clear: to bridge the gap. To take that a step further with more detail, it is about providing a framework for those who work within the Randolph community to see just what our students are doing on a regular basis beyond just what occurs within the four walls of the classroom. To let a faculty member, who maybe sees a student as unmotivated in his/her class, see that exact same student with a sudden fire lit underneath them and being attentive, responsive, and a leader. The flip can occur as well where maybe a student that is full of life in a classroom, is not the same on the field, court, or pool. If the heart of this profession is the relationships that are established between students and faculty, staff, and coaches then this program strengthens those bonds. Too often the echo is heard from students of all areas that, “My teacher really doesn’t know what else I do” or “I am dedicated, but my coach doesn’t think I am”. This program allows those statements to become non-existent because the program allows teachers to see their students in a different environment, while also allowing student-athletes to see their teachers also out of what they might assume is the teachers only environment.
Too often, invisible barriers are created within schools. Whether they are created between students and faculty, students and coaches, or faculty and coaches does not matter but the fact that they can exist does. At Randolph, we strive to prevent those barriers from developing every day, and this program is proving to be a big piece of that process. Our students enjoy seeing their teachers outside of the classroom, and our teachers enjoy the same. Teachers can see a student in a different light and maybe use what they see on the court or field to their advantage in the classroom. On the other side, and even more important, it allows for students to see and be able to say, “My teacher cares about me beyond just the classroom.” To bring it home, the Honorary Coach Program is all about helping to create One Randolph.
US History Teacher David Hillinck, who was selected as the Honorary Coach for boys Swim & Dive Team during their 2016 season.
Caron Holden, member of Randolph’s Food Services Staff, with our Dance Team after being selected as their Honorary Coach in the Fall of 2016.