Camp Staff & Teachers, Andy Gault & Annie Futato, Continue to Encourage Excellence

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Varsity Spirit was founded on the values of teaching and mentorship, providing the first camps and educational resources to help coaches do what they love and do it well. And it’s at those summer camps, Varsity Instructional Staff become the teachers and mentors, who encourage excellence and pour passion into the next generation of leaders. 

Over the past few months COVID-19 closed classrooms and canceled events, staff, teachers, and the rest of the world have found themselves in a unique position— teaching, mentoring and connecting from a computer screen at home. Many of our instructional camp staff also have full-time jobs as teachers and coaches, and they’re meeting this challenge with high spirits and encouragement. 

Veteran NCA Instructor and full-time American Sign Language & Deaf Studies teacher, Andy Gault, has been educating youth for over 20 years, and continues to encourage excellence and advocate for young people in the wake of COVID-19. When classrooms closed, Andy helped deliver computers and meals, and reworked his lesson plans for online learning. It’s been a challenge for everyone, but Andy is determined to stay positive. 

We all have amazing days and we all have challenging days! Nothing can be perfect. With an open heart and an open mind we can be flexible and adaptable. Excellence is pursuing the idea, and creating something together. We pursue our own greatness by being present in the moment, realizing that we can’t let a moment go to waste, and there’s always an opportunity to encourage somebody along the way,” Andy said. 

As both a teacher and camp instructor, Andy has found many parallels between the two roles over the years. Leading by example, being one of those. And now, more than ever, students learning from home need a positive role model who sparks inspiration. 

Andy says, “Always put yourself in the shoes of the student or the athlete. Who would they want leading them? What are they seeing and hearing from me? What does confidence and encouragement look like? What does being approachable look like? Do they know I care? We are teachers, at camp and in the classroom, and we are there for the kids! It’s always helpful to think through what they are going through and provide them the best example you can at that moment.” 

Also working to keep her kids on their toes is UDA Instructor, dance team coach and Dance Technique teacher, Annie Futato. Annie is working to wrap up her season with a virtual conference complete with awards and continues her school teaching with video chats and activity logs. She too is meeting the challenge of teaching from a distance, ready to do her best to be there for her students and athletes. 

“I believe teachers truly care about their students and want all of their students to succeed. Even though it has been a challenge for everyone to move online, every teacher I know is going above and beyond to be available for their students. My time on UDA Staff has no doubt helped me during this time. Something that is stressed during staff training is that camp never goes exactly as planned, just like life doesn’t either. You have to have a back-up plan, and sometimes when you couldn’t have planned for what arises (like COVID-19), you have to think on your feet and come up with a viable plan quickly,” Annie says. 

Both veteran teachers believe that everyone is doing their best to make the most of the challenge they’ve been dealt, and no two teachers’ or students’ experiences will be the same. Annie said it best when she told us what encouraging excellence meant to her, as an educator. 

“I think it’s important to remember that “excellence” looks different to every team, every student, and every teacher…to some students, excellence is a passing “C” because perhaps they struggle with the content, but they know they studied their hardest for the final exam to earn that “C”. For others, maybe straight “As” feels excellent. A team that’s at camp for the very first time displays excellence just by showing up with smiles on their faces ready to learn. A veteran nationals team may feel excellent because they strive for all blue ribbons during evaluations. Whatever the specific case may be, I believe that excellence is in the process. Are you doing the best you can with what you have right now? If so, you are excellent.” 

To the teachers, coaches and mentors who are showing up for our youth and guiding our future leaders toward the goal of excellence — we thank you, we applaud you and we appreciate you.  

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