Over the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring short Q&A’s with our fall sports coaches. At ESK, the athletic program focuses on whole child development, and our coaches keep this in mind each time they hit the field for practice or a match with their student athletes. Today we’ll hear from Coach David Spates, a middle school teacher and athletic program extraordinaire. Coach Spates can almost always be found on the playing field after school at ESK, whether coaching middle school flag football or middle school girls softball. He’s respected by players, knows the discipline and hard work it takes to create a team that plays well together, and coaches because he loves to connect with kids in a setting other than the classroom. We’re grateful he took a few minutes to tell us about his experience coaching at ESK.
How long have you been coaching?
DS: I’ve been coaching at ESK the entire time I’ve been here, which is nine years. I’ve coached a few sports during my tenure as a Saint: flag football, girls softball, JV boys basketball, and Saints League basketball. Currently, I coach only the flag football team and the girls softball team.
What is your background in the sport you coach?
DS: My background in flag football is coaching at ESK, but I’ve coached the team for about five years. I’ve coached softball for about 12 years, six of which have been here at ESK. I became involved in coaching when my daughter, Anna, was about 5 or 6 years old and playing softball. Someone asked for a volunteer to help out, and I stepped up. I’ve been hooked ever since. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it!
What makes the athletic program at ESK different from other schools?
DS: What makes athletics at ESK different is that our students take a tremendous amount of pride in having their school’s name across their jerseys. They enjoy representing ESK. There are countless rec league teams, travel teams, and specialized club teams that our students have opportunities to play on, but there’s only one place where a student can take the field (or the court) and represent their school. That’s at ESK.
What do you hope kids learn from their time on a team at ESK?
DS: I hope our student athletes learn that playing a sport requires commitment and balance. Juggling the requirements of a sports team along with being a student can be challenging, and it requires discipline, goal-setting and time-management, all of which are crucial skills in high school, college, and adulthood. I also hope that our athletic programs help our students learn the value of determination and grit. The lessons they learn on the field will absolutely translate into real-life experiences off the field.
Thank you for answering these questions, Coach Spates! Coach Spates and the ESK MS Flag Football team have had a fantastic season this year! The team has only given up one loss in regular season play, and they’re pumped for league tournament play to begin this week. Coach Spates, thank you for taking the time to coach these young men and women at ESK. Your enthusiasm for the sport, encouragement on the field, and care for each athlete equal a successful team ready to take on challenges in postseason play!
By Caroline Wood