By: Sharon Christensen
"If you don't take risks, you won't achieve anything," said Richard Branson. The Stevens High School Cross Country girl’s team placed 2nd in district and qualified for regionals and for state this year, making Stevens history! Head Coach Tracy Hesson said the risk she took with technology by transitioning her athletes from keeping a paper running journal to using Google Docs in Google Classroom contributed to the success the team experienced this year. Hesson is an experienced technology user but convincing her athletes to do something new took a bit of time. Hesitant at first, they came around to reflecting and writing more this way then they ever did in the paper journals. Students were expected to complete a daily reflection following practice and then submit the week's work each Friday in Google Classroom. With their NISD iPads in hand, Hesson and assistant coach Mario Flores were able to add daily comments, questions, and lots of encouraging words to each athlete by collaborating in Google docs.
Coach Hesson says, "I feel that Google Classroom has allowed the students to contribute much more to the questions than those I ask them daily or weekly. I feel that I as a coach was able to have a much better understanding of what was going on mentally with them and physically with them. And, adding my assistant coach as co-teach gave the athletes access to much more support and contact from us."
"I used to have the kids write the same information in a journal form. The replies that I was getting in written form were minimal. If I asked how they felt during a workout many days I would only get "fine" replied to the question. With Google Classroom, where the kids were typing in their replies for the most part on their cell phones, I was always able to get much more information from the kids. I believe that this info made me a much better coach for these kids," Hesson reflects after a record-setting season.
Both on and off the track, taking risks for kids paid off for Hesson and her athletes. Now Soccer Coach Mario Flores and Head Girls Basketball Coach Annissa Hastings will use Google Classroom to communicate with their athletes.
See more about the JP Stevens Girls XC Team at runstevensrun.com.