Subject: Michelle Gibson, teacher/coach, E. L. Crossley Secondary School
What would you be doing at school now if the pandemic hadn’t hit? If the pandemic hadn’t hit, I would have returned after March Break and started to coach a little co-ed volleyball with Jessica Kropac. We have been coaching since September, the boys season first and our girls season had just ended. We were both ready to enjoy a bit of a break and just have fun with the co-ed season. Normally at school as well, I would have been involved in some leadership development with students with our Link Crew Program; training new senior leaders to help welcome our incoming Grade 9 students. I would also be working in guidance and helping students day to day.
What are you doing now? Now I am working in my role as guidance counsellor from home. This includes supporting students as they navigate this new learning platform and all of its challenges. As a team, we try to connect with students as often as we can. We are also busy planning in and around graduation and preparing for next year. I am also getting to spend more time with my own boys — a much slower pace from running to their daily sporting events.
What is the biggest obstacle to doing your job during the pandemic? The biggest obstacle is not getting to connect face-to-face with students. I really miss those interactions whether it is from the guidance office, the gym or the hallways. As teachers, we all love kids, so it is really hard to be away from them. Connecting by phone or email just isn’t the same.
What do you miss the most about the pre-pandemic world of high school sports? Simple. I miss the interactions with the students and athletes the most. I miss coaching volleyball and spending time helping them to challenge themselves to become better. I miss competition. I miss seeing my colleagues and our daily laughs! I also miss getting to see my own children compete in their activities such as basketball, kickboxing, soccer and hockey.
What do you miss the least about the pre-pandemic world of high school sports? I would have to say that the thing I miss the least would be those early morning practices as well as that panic feeling when you can’t remember if you picked up the ref fees or where you left the volleyballs.
What is the biggest thing wrong with high school sports that you can reveal without getting fired or demoted for your honesty? A lot of athletes come to us with outside experience already and this can deter other athletes from trying out. Jessica and I are always so grateful to have such a wonderful talent pool, but we are also always looking for athletes in general. We have been know to turn some Grade 12 hockey players into some pretty decent volleyball players in their last year. It is never too late to start learning a new sport.
Is there an easy way to fix the problem? Encourage students, especially Grade 9s, to try out for everything.
Is there a hard way to fix the problem? Yes, getting those Grade 9s to try out.
What would be one suggestion to make high school sports better? What we all want — more practice time/gym availability.
Has the pandemic changed how you will approach your work with the team? No, I think as a coach, I have always believed that sports is about a bigger picture. So many valuable lessons to learn with winning and losing, resiliency, hard work, determination and never giving up. Skills and values that are particularly important when faced with this pandemic. To come out the other side of it, having learned something, having persevered through a challenging time and become a better person. To work as a team, make sacrifices for others, to reach common goals.
What is the first thing you are going to do when life returns to normal? Hug people. And then go to any type of live sporting event, preferably an NHL game.
What daily activity do you miss the most? I miss coaching and working with students in guidance.
What guilty pleasure do you miss the most? I miss going to any type of live sporting event (Raptors, Leafs, Jays).
What is your favourite outfit to wear around the house if you are working from home? Comfort first, always athletic gear. We won’t talk about the time I tried to put my jeans on.
What do you do to replace the time spent working with the kids? Eat and then work out and then eat again. I have also watched a few series on Netflix (generally I am not a TV person). Again, I have also enjoyed some time with my kids at a much slower and quieter pace.
Are you mostly likely to be a hunk, chunk, drunk or Sasquatch when the pandemic ends? All of the above. Just kidding. My plan is to have a Glow Up but time will tell.
What is the worst habit you have picked up during the pandemic? Eating chips right before bed.
What is the best habit you have picked up during the pandemic? I would say exercising more. I have been enjoying lots of bike rides, running, and lifting weights.
What is something good about yourself you have discovered during the pandemic? That I can eat when I’m not even hungry. I have also discovered that I can grow my own vegetables.
What is something bad about yourself you have discovered during the pandemic? That I can eat when I’m not even hungry. ◆
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