“And 1st place goes to…Fresno State!”
While the Men’s Bulldog Basketball Team was celebrating their big win in the Mountain West Tournament March 12th, another team on campus was basking in their own winning glory. The Department Of Kinesiology’s Pedagogy Club, made up of physical education students, beat out five other CSU’s to win the top spot in the Future Professional Student Competition at the California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CAHPERD) Conference in Santa Clara.
This win has all the makings of a momentous comeback story. Last year, due to a lack of funds, only five members were able to attend the conference and hence, they placed among the last in the competition. This year, 22 students represented Fresno State at the statewide conference.
Jerry Oldham, a super senior and founding board member of the Pedagogy Club, said the win was a great victory for the club members.
“We come from a good school, with tradition and great athletics, and we thought to ourselves that we’re just as good as any other school in California,” said Oldham. “When we won, it was our redemption.”
The team from Fresno State not only won first place, but took second, third and fourth place as well – dominating the competition. Of the 20 teams that competed, Fresno State ranked among the top four spots.
The hour and half long competition was meant to test the teamwork and agility of the teams competing. Teams of 4-5 battled it out in a variety of cooperative-style games that used elements they were familiar with in their physical education courses. The end goal was to incorporate new lessons learned for future curriculum.
“What helped motivate us was having faculty members by our side, as well as professionals and alumni from the area who kept us motivated,” said super senior and club president, Brandon Chrest. “That was really internal motivation for us as well.”
Aside from the competition, the CAHPERD Conference provided the students an important opportunity to network, connect with professionals and other students, attend workshops and apply theory to practice.
Thanks to a University Instructionally Related Activities (IRA) grant, all 22 students were able to attend at no cost to them. Tim Hamel, a lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology and the club’s co-advisor (along with lecturer Justine McAlpine), said it’s the club’s tight cohesion that helped them win the competition. Cohesion is also an important component needed in the physical education realm, which is something the students were able to take away from at the conference.
CAHPERD is considered the premier professional organization in California for those in the physical education field and the conference reflected that with many speakers and presenters from all over the state and country coming to share their expertise with those in the field and for students just getting started. Over 1,500 attended the three-day conference.
Club members said attending the conference was a valuable learning opportunity for them as future physical educators.
“There were presenters from Brooklyn, North Carolina and Canada,” said Chrest. “You really get to see the dynamics of how they integrate their curriculum and use common core. Just being able to see how different parts of the country use their curriculum will help us overall become better instructors.”
“Networking with other teachers and students, and alumni, is a one of the benefits of this conference,” said senior, Grant Kapigian. “We were also able to gain new ideas for how to adapt and modify lessons so that everyone can play.”
For super senior, Carl Carrizales, seeing the dedication those in the profession have, is amazing. “You see a lot of professionals that have been there 15-20 years and they’re still growing and learning – and constantly presenting new ideas. They don’t stay stagnant.”
Among those professionals is Hamel, who presented on coach education and the 4C approach (competence, confidence, connection and character), along with Department of Kinesiology Professor, Dr. Wade Gilbert. Together, they taught the 130 coaches attending the session, how to instill the 4C approach into sports.
In addition to being a member of CAHPERD for 15 years, Hamel is also on the board of directors for the organization, serving as vice president of the physical education sector. He said it’s a great benefit for his students to see faculty involved with a professional organization, such as CAHPERD, and for them to be involved themselves.
“They get to see what they’re studying in action,” Hamel said. “As a student, they get so ingrained in the pattern of coming to class and being hammered with lesson plans and theory. Being at the conference allows them to see the applied side. They learn new activities to teach in class and learn how to implement common core in lesson plans and assessments. They hear us talk about this in class, but to see it in action is the good part.”
The Pedagogy Club has only been around for a few years, but it is already making a big impact for its members, both academically and personally. There are currently 60 members involved, all of whom are undergraduate students going into the physical education field. Board members hope the club offers mentorship and guidance for pedagogy students trying to navigate their kinesiology courses.
For junior, Erik Balanos, having upperclassmen in the club to offer advice has been the best benefit of all. “For those going into the credential program, you can ask them questions about the program and what to expect in the future.”
The Pedagogy Club also readily volunteers with Fresno County Office of Education’s Adaptive Physical Education, and most recently volunteered for Valley Children’s Healthcare Kids Day.
As for the competition, the club plans to be back again next year, bigger than ever. But it’s their struggles early on that truly motivate them.
“That’s what I always tell them,” Hamel said. “In order to win, you have to lose. Last year had to happen.”
Except, unlike last year, they don’t plan to lose ever again.
[ View video of the competition! ]