“I’m pretty excited about this year, I know pandemic-wise it’s not exactly exciting… but it is for us because we get to go into those units that kids typically don’t get to see. They are lifelong sports,” said Sherrard Junior High Physical Education teacher Paula Zigler.
Golf roots run deep in the Sherrard area that boasts a serene course at Fyre Lake Golf Club - but that doesn't mean every kid has had the opportunity to learn about the sport. Sowing the seed earlier - may mean more interest in the sport once students hit high school, especially on the heels of the first ever IHSA Sectional win from the high school boys' golf team recently, Oct. 12. Because of the pandemic, the IHSA did not host state golf finals.
This year in Physical Education classes - no team sports including basketball, football, soccer are allowed - since the equipment is shared during the sport. Personal sports - where every student uses their own equipment, followed by sanitization, has meant new PE units.
Their first unit was frisbee golf. Teachers Zigler and Brandon Oelmann, got creative.
“We set up the course with tomato cages and a laundry basket sitting inside an elevated target,” she said.
When PE teachers Zigler and Brandon Oelmann heard they couldn’t do any shared equipment team sports they reacted by brainstorming ideas, creating an amazon wish list to purchase the needed supplies - and asked friends and family to consider donating. Within a few days they were fully funded.
Their current unit is golf. Golf balls were donated by teachers to help lessen expenses.
ZIgler said the kids are enjoying it - learning the basics, like how to swing a golf club.
She said most students began golf not knowing much, “They’re doing great. Most of them, honestly, haven’t played golf before. To see them progress from day one to day ten... it is night and day. “
“When I first started I didn’t understand it. I feel like my hitting has gotten better,” said 7th grade student Jazmyn McCray. She said she was excited when she heard the district would have an in-person option when school started, “I was excited to see how junior high was - (it’s my) first year in junior high, 7th grade. I was excited to see my friends, see the teachers, meet everyone. At the same time I was nervous because I didn’t know how everything was going to play out.
“It’s worth it to wear masks - to get to come to school… No one is going to like it, but it’s worth it.”
Upcoming PE units include bags, dance, lacrosse, pole vaulting, “We just got our last load of pool noodles we’ll use for fencing. I’m excited about that. I’ve never taught it, but I have lots of resources - I’ve reached out to colleagues that have. I’m excited about doing that in the winter,” said Zigler.
Eighth grade student Kaylee Nelson said she’s glad to be back - because it’s harder for her to work from home. “They’re (teachers) not always around to ask questions and stuff - they can’t respond to emails as fast as in class.” She said she likes the new PE units this year.
"I've never really played golf - it's pretty fun, my grandpa used to golf all the time," she said.
“They’re lifelong sports - (most) you can play until you’re in your 90’s. How many parks have frisbee golf now? It’s great to introduce those units to kids… How many places do you go that have bags tournaments?” said Zigler.
She said on average they go through six to nine bottles of cleaning solution to sanitize equipment handled by students each week. “We’re trying the best that we can to keep everyone safe, healthy and in school so they can enjoy physical education.”
Remote students are still doing physical education activities - and checking-in with PE teachers.
“They are still required to do our activity - or (PE) assignment,” said Zigler.
“They want that physical activity - they are craving it. They need it… They really have been really receptive to what we’re teaching,” she said.