Freshman P.E. through the years with Linda Ernst: Coach continues teaching from generation to generation as student lifestyle changes


Bella Dessert

Freshman girls glide across the gym in scooter soccer during Coach Linda Ernst’s P.E. class

Bella Dessert, Contributor

As her students buzz around the gym playing scooter soccer, Coach Linda Ernst brings the fun for each P.E. class. 

The girls run around in innovative games, blasting music and competitive exercises during Ernst’s class, making a freshman class the girls won’t forget. 

After teaching girls’ physical education for over twenty years, Ernst makes a difference in the freshman classes from year to year.

Even though each freshman girl is required to take P.E., Ernst allows the class to be an open and inviting environment as the girls are still getting to know their school. 

“It allows the freshman girls to get to know each other right off the bat,” Ernst said. “If you wait till later, you know, the interest isn’t there as much.”

According to Ernst, as generations pass, the work ethic goes down and it is more common for students to make excuses and focus less. 

P.E. is a very different class in comparison to students’ core classes and electives. One way Ernst helps the girls enter her class is by working to build a good relationship with each student. 

“I enjoy reading their wellness projects and books that we create because I really get to know each student on a personal level,” Ernst said. “Then, I like to try to remember some of the things I read about and spark a conversation with them.”

According to Ernst, one of her major goals in her class is to follow the mood of each individual class.

“I try to be as patient as possible,” Ernst said. “I’m not one to be a yeller, so I keep a lot of my frustrations internally and try to go with the flow of class.”

Along with physical education, the class includes health combined with P.E. This class involves many conversations about dimensions of wellness as well as the students’ physical and mental health. 

“I make a really big emphasis on fitness and the importance of daily exercise as well as fundamentals of team sports,” Ernst said. “If the girls understand that exercising 30 minutes a day every day is so beneficial for you, then I’ve done my job.”

Between P.E. and health, the girls learn about the eight dimensions of wellness including spiritual wellness. 

“She really emphasizes the importance of spiritual well being and having a good relationship with God that will tie into anything else in your life,” freshman Mary Aguilera said. 

After building relationships and connections with her students, Ernst makes an effort to keep in touch with them throughout their following three years of high school as well as through college. 

“Especially the students that I’ve coached, I like to go watch them play in college,” Ernst said “We’ll get together and just go have dinner.  I like to just keep track of where they’re going.”

As the girls become more comfortable with each other, the class energy shifts as the year ends.

“My favorite part is when the class gets really involved in the activity and they’re very competitive,” Ernst said. “They’re laughing, they’re having fun. That’s the joy of teaching right there.”