Johnson High school’s football coach, Mark Soto, is not only starting off his season 3 and 0, but has also introduced a new coaching tactic to ensure the team’s success both on and off the field.
“We let the kids take their jerseys to the teachers that they feel have helped them out that week and did a good job, maybe helping them with some homework or some tutorials,” Soto said. “Maybe they just like that teacher; whatever it is, we let the kid decide who he’s taking the jersey to.”
Soto is encouraging students to build relationships with their teachers.
“It’s a way for us to make sure that our teachers understand that they’re appreciated by the kids: we plan on doing this every varsity game day morning,” Soto said.
Not only is Soto embracing student participation with their teachers, but also teacher participation with the students.
“What we have is a teacher appreciation kind of honorary coach thing going on where the teacher can sign up for whatever game they want,” Soto said. “Two teachers per week are able to do everything and anything they want to do with the football team, as in coming out to practice, watching them work out, and of course be with the coaches in the coaching office: if they want to do that.”
This new tradition is a way for teachers to see more than just the games.
“On game days, they get to be on the sideline, come into the locker rooms, hear the pre-game speeches,” Soto said. “See the kids get fired up, be it be on the sideline, the whole thing.”
This gives the teachers a chance to understand the bigger picture behind the football program.
“We’ve had about four teachers do it already in the last two games and they’ve loved it. It’s really been a big thing,” Soto said. “Ms. Noriega was out there today this past week and she enjoyed it.”
If anything the numbers show that this is doing nothing but good for the football team.
“We’re doing really well,” Soto said. “We have got some big games coming down the pipe, this week we have MacArthur, and so far the kids have grown and gotten better in each game.”
Not only are football coaches excited, but many teachers, Ricardo Mora, have also enjoyed this new trend.
“It’s a tradition I’ve had at other high schools that I worked at,” Mora said. “It really helps build a report with the students and you get to see them outside of your classroom. It’s a lot of fun too, it’s a great new tradition here at Johnson.”
Mora believes that this tradition is bound to do more than just let the teachers and students have fun.
“I know it’s going to increase our school spirit and stuff like that,” Mora said. “So it’s just a lot of fun.”
To some people’s surprise, Mora is a formal coach and has seen this new tradition play out for the better.
“I was a former football coach, so I like to see the kids out there practicing and getting pumped up and ready to play the game.” Mora said “Getting them ready and stuff like practicing in the summer and the spring and of course during the season it’s a lot of fun.”
As always the goal here at Johnson is to do more than just teach.
“Being a role model is just something that comes naturally to teachers,” Mora said “I always try to put my best foot forward in order to have fun with the kids.”