Balancing Playing Field with Curriculum


Connor Henry, Features Editor

For Durango High School sports, teachers who simultaneously coach has become a more rare occurrence as the balance of activities between the classroom and athletics becomes more and more challenging.

English teacher Jennifer Johnson, cheer coach from 2006-2012, stopped coaching once her schedule became too busy.

“My own children got to an age where they had a lot of after-school stuff going on and after-school hours were just too difficult to manage,” said Johnson.

Big Picture teacher Daena Roberts was the assistant coach when Johnson headed the program, and took over cheer program after Johnson’s departure.

Similar to Johnson, English teacher Aaron Eldridge coached the girls soccer program from 2006-2012 and also stopped once the balance of activities became too challenging.

“The responsibilities and expectations of both teaching and coaching continued to grow and made it really difficult to do either job very well. I thought the soccer program deserved everything I could give it, and I felt like I was unable to because of my responsibilities as a teacher,” said Eldridge.

In 2013, Dalon Parker, who also coaches the boys soccer team, replaced Eldridge and assumed control of the soccer program. Eldridge tried to distance himself from girls soccer after leaving the program.

“It’s been difficult for me to go back and watch games because I was so close to it when I was coaching,” said Eldridge.

Baseball also underwent changes when head coach Rob Coddington left the position after coaching from 1999-2013 to be replaced by Eric Baker. Baker had coached with Coddington during a similar time span and was the JV coach when Coddington was the varsity coach.

“I am just taking a break from coaching so I can spend some time with my kid. My son’s 10-years-old and I just wanted to be around when he was coming up through his athletics and his activities,” said Coddington.

With Baker now in charge, the program runs slightly differently, but its intent has stayed the same.

“There’s a change with every head coach just with style and personality, but I know the expectations are still there to have a consistent program and work hard on the fundamentals. I know Coach Baker really believes in that,” said Coddington.

The new baseball coaching staff has many benefits for players on the team, as multiple coaches can specialize with individual players about certain aspects of the game.

“There are some [coaches] that are more specific for pitching, and some that are more specific for hitting and grounders, but the mix of them all is a great outcome,” said Jr. baseball player Dakota Padovan.

On the possibility of coaching in the future, some teachers admit it may be a possibility. Despite the challenges of fitting two entirely different activities into one schedule, Eldridge wishes he could remain coaching without all the added difficulties.

“I really miss being on the field with the kids and that part of it, but the paperwork and the traveling, all of that stuff, I find challenging. I just recently started having the pangs of wanting to go back and thinking what that would be like and how that would fit in my life,” said Eldridge.

Johnson also feels that once her schedule settles down, she may want to resume coaching again.

“I might [want to coach again] to take up my time in a different way. I’ve taken on other responsibilities at school so I’d have to shift again, but maybe someday,” said Johnson.