All Eyes on You
Eight Teacher Education Student Athletes Dedicate Themselves to Their Sport, Service, and Being Role Models
Johnnie Dowling, an outfielder on the Hawkeye softball team, was charged with teaching a group of youngsters drills and techniques at a recent youth softball camp for more than 100 kids.
Luckily, Dowling is an Elementary Education major and was ready for the challenge.
“I found myself using strategies that I have been taught through the
education program,” she said. “Consequently, my group was attentive and
eager to learn.”
Student athletes often find themselves interacting with youth in
community engagement activities and through the role-model status they
take on through their sport. Eight current student athletes say their
training in the College of Education makes them specially prepared to be
successful in those situations.
Amy Center on the Floor
Amy Center performs her floor exercise for the University of Iowa. She scores a 9.5.
Amy Center, a gymnast and senior Elementary Education major, said being a student athlete means she’s part of something bigger.
“I love the connection with all different types of people,” she said.
Center has been involved in raising money for local flood victims, setting up a haunted house for kids, and running in the annual Ponseti Races that benefit children impacted by clubfoot.
“The many volunteer experiences these four years have brought me closer to my major,” she said. “I’ve been able to connect with kids on all different levels, from all different cultural backgrounds. It’s helped me to truly see all different sides of education.”
holds some impressive records as a guard for the Hawkeye women’s
basketball team. She was the first Hawkeye freshman to score a double
double in her first game and holds the Hawkeye record for the most
three-pointers scored in a game with six during a game last season. She
also excels in her studies, recently named to the 2012 Big Ten Winter
Academic All-Conference team.
A Social Studies Education major who will graduate in 2013, Wahlin has
also made a difference off the court. Through her sport, she has done
public speaking and volunteering in local schools, visited patients in
the hospital and at the Ronald McDonald House.
“I am thankful that I am able to receive an education from the
University of Iowa as well as participate on an athletic team,” Wahlin
said. “I cannot put into words how much I have enjoyed being an Iowa
Casey Krieter is a long snapper for the Hawkeye football team. He said being a student athlete gives him a well-rounded college experience.
“The actual football playing is exciting and enjoyable, but behind the scenes is also valuable,” he said. “Things like community service, learning life skills from coaching, becoming a man, and giving back to kids who are less fortunate than me.”
Kreiter has participated in Dance Marathon, visited the Children’s Hospital, helped with a food drive and at the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s fundraising walk. He was also chosen as a part of the football squad’s leadership team through a vote from his teammates. That committee helps develop team rules and resolve issues.
“I think my education training has helped me enjoy and acknowledge that I will be looked at as a role model,” Kreiter said.
Amanda Kocovsky, an Elementary Education and History double major and member of the UI diving team, said the biggest challenge she faces as a student athlete is having time to do it all.
“I want to be a great diver, a great student, a great teacher, and a great friend,” she said.
Kocovsky volunteered this fall at a local elementary school where she interacted with the students at recess and helped with their reading.
“The College of Education prepares us to go out into the real world and provides us with valuable experiences working with kids and acting as role models,” she said. “So, as an athlete, when we have to do anything with kids, it’s nice that I have that background knowledge.”
Danielle Peirson, an Elementary Education major, plays field hockey for the Hawkeyes. She participates in Hawkeye PRIDE, a program that connects student athletes with local elementary schools.
“My training in the College of Education helps me to be more comfortable in community engagement activities. As a future educator, being able to socialize with a wide array of people, adults and children included, is vital to my future career,” she said. “I view the work we do in the community as time to practice these skills. Being an education major along with an athlete pairs well together. Both are simultaneously preparing me for a public career.”
Jasmine Simpson, a thrower on the UI track and field team and Secondary English Education major, agrees with Peirson.
“I’m excited about my preparation in the College of Education,” she said. “Being a part of Iowa athletics continually gives me opportunities to learn lessons in leadership and being a role model and these experiences will help me to be the teacher I have always dreamed of becoming.”
Jackie Laesch, a cross-country and track runner and senior Elementary Education major, has found an extra way to be a role model in her student-teaching placement. Most student athletes aren’t able to complete student teaching while their sport is in season, but Laesch wanted to do both so that she could graduate in four years.
“When discussing my track schedule and how it would work while student teaching, my cooperating teacher encouraged me to travel to all the meets,” she said. “Her reasoning was that I could be a role model to my students and show them it is possible to balance athletics and school.”
Laesch has also been involved in Hawkeye PRIDE. She has volunteered at the Iowa Children’s Museum and cleaned up a local preschool.
“Whenever I choose volunteer opportunities, I pick ones that allow me to work with children,” she said, adding that those activities as well as her practicum experiences have allowed her to spend time with a diverse variety of students.
“So many of these children hunger for a positive role model in their lives, and it’s an honor that as both a teacher and an athlete I can be someone for them to look up to,” she said. “I try to carry myself with integrity on and off the track and also in and out of the classroom because their eyes are always on you and everything you do can mean the world to them.”