Jarrett Roy knows he looks like one of his high school students.
He doesn’t mind the comparison.
He earned a degree in physical education from Emporia State University this past May. He’s not much older than the students at Iola High School.
And he’s just about as excited as a kid, anyway, to teach weight training and conditioning at IHS so soon after graduating from college.
“I kind of got lucky. First year teaching, I got a weights position, which is extremely hard,” he said.
“I think being so young helps me connect with the kids. I was just in their place. I know exactly what they’re going through.”
True, he has to set boundaries. He’s the teacher now. And all of his classes are elective, so the students want to be there.
He’s excited to help his students learn how to use weight training to develop their physical skills.
And, more importantly, he wants to teach them how to use those skills for a lifetime of healthy habits.
“At the end of the day, sports will only last so long,” he said. “We’re not bodybuilding, by any means. We’re teaching students the tools they need to be active later in life.”
ROY KNOWS what it takes to be an athlete.
“When I was in high school, I wanted to do everything. That’s not possible,” he said.
He grew up playing baseball.
He played football and basketball and participated in track at Royal Valley High School in Hoyt, north of Topeka. He played football at Dodge City Community College for one year, then transferred to ESU where he played football for the next three years.
He took sports granted, thinking he’d get to play forever.
“I played four years in college and then, boom, it’s done,” he said. “You’ve just got to be grateful for what there is.”
He wasn’t quite sure what kind of career to pursue. Two coaches during his junior year inspired him to follow that path.
“They had a huge impact on my life, and I wanted to do that for someone else,” he said. “Sports was the biggest thing in my life, so it was more about how I can impact students and still be involved in sports.”
He also feels lucky to be able to coach. He’s helping coach football and will help coach girls basketball in the winter.
He’s also the sponsor for the school’s powerlifting club, which competes in events as a team sport. It’s a good opportunity for students to stay active during winter months if they aren’t involved in those sports, or just for those who enjoy weight lifting. He hopes to increase participation.
WEIGHT TRAINING evolves, Roy said.
Even since he began lifting weights in middle school, strategies and philosophies behind weight training have shifted.
It used to be a numbers game, Roy said. It was about how much weight you could handle.
“Now, it’s about being explosive,” he said. “It’s about being a total athlete instead of just a strong person.”
That’s why he tries to include variety into his weight training classes. Students lift for four days each week, then spend a day focusing on other skills like agility.
He hopes that inspires students to continue working out long after they lose the opportunity to play competitive sports.
“At the end of the day, the goal is to teach kids to be fit for a lifetime. That will help create a healthier society.”
ROY was interviewed for this article hours before the first IHS football game of the season, a season made uncertain because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic taught Roy that he can’t control everything. It disrupted his final year of college, including his student teaching experience, and delayed his graduation ceremony.
“For me, every day is a wish. I want my students to understand, any day this could all be taken away from us,” he said. “Tomorrow is not guaranteed and today is all we can handle.”
It’s perhaps fitting that his first official game as a coach comes during the pandemic, because being a coach is also about giving up control.
He has helped prepare and motivate the players. Now, it’s up to them.
“When you are a player, you have more control. It will be different,” he said. “This feels like the start of the next level.”