Math Teacher and Tennis Coach Matt Marsico poses with the State Championship Trophy. Photo: Fred Assaf

Any Pace student-athlete is familiar with the often overwhelming schedule that managing their sport demands. Balancing practices, homework, tests and games, choosing to play a school sport requires a massive time commitment. Many Pace teachers also coach a sport, and they can sympathize. “Being a coach reminds me to put myself in my students’ shoes,” says English teacher, cross country coach and soccer coach Tamara Neiley. “I’m busy after the academic day just like my students,” she explains. “It’s a nice reminder to be a little more empathetic to my students and recognize how busy their schedules are.” 

Teacher-coaches deal with many of the same difficulties players do. Math teacher and tennis coach, Mr. Matt Marsico says, “it’s a lot harder because we have to balance being available to our students… and still be there to manage and run the team.” He often has to schedule extra help meetings in the morning or during break and free periods because of practices after school. “Especially when we have away matches and we have to leave early, it can get challenging,” he notes.

Computer science teacher and E-Sports coach Charlie Bryant says he’s “there for all the time that the players are there plus a little more” because he’s also in charge of all the planning and logistics for E-Sports. E-sports can be uniquely challenging because they have “multiple teams going at the same time,” he adds. However, it can also be very rewarding. Knowing their students outside of the classroom helps them have deeper connections with them and be better equipped to help them. 

Marsico described the unique relationship he is able to have with students who play on his tennis team, saying “it’s easier for me to know when a student is struggling because I know more about them and how they respond to adversity.” Although there is a difference in the formality of a classroom, he thinks teaching and coaching have a lot of similarities. “We’re still just trying to get to know our students or players and make their time at Pace be the best it can be, and a lot of the lessons that we take with us for the rest of our lives don’t occur in a classroom. They don’t necessarily occur on a tennis court either – it’s in life and interactions.” “Part of being a good teacher is forming relationships,” says Mr. Bryant, and seeing students outside of class has helped with that. 

With the time commitments, is it worth it to take on the extra responsibilities of coaching? “You have to love it and you have to be passionate about it to be fully committed to the team,” explains Ms. Neiley. But if you are, she says, “it can be an incredibly rewarding and fun experience.” 

Get the discussion going! Leave a comment or reply below.