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Blast from the past: teacher edition

Marc Igler:

English teacher Marc Igler is no stranger to the world of athletics. A former golf standout, Igler has continued his love of the sport as the boys’ varsity golf coach. Igler played basketball, tennis and golf in high school.

Igler started out playing basketball, but did not get much playing time. He then decided to pursue tennis. However, he soon found out that the junior tennis circuit was not for him. “I was always in these junior circuit tournaments,” Igler said. “It just became exhausting and too much of a time commitment.”

With tennis and basketball becoming an afterthought, Igler discovered a new, foreign sport. “Late in freshman year, a couple of buddies and I went to an old golf course that used to be right behind Gunn on the Veterans’ property. We rented some clubs, and really didn’t know what we were doing,” Igler said. “We just started hitting some golf balls, and immediately I got hooked.”

Soon, Igler began practicing everyday. “At my finest, I was a ‘five-handicap’ at golf,” Igler said. “That means I could go eighteen holes of golf and finish five shots over par.”

The English teacher believes sports have had a positive impact on his life and have improved his social interaction. “You get to meet new people, and it’s really fun to just socialize with others,” he said. Igler also believes that high school sports teach humility and other important life lessons. “High school is the time when the physically gifted athletes really blossom, while the athletes who are not as physically gifted are left behind,” he said. “That may sound harsh, but it’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses in life, as well as the things you care about and the things you don’t. If you can let go of your ego, high school sports are good at teaching you that lesson.” Igler hopes to continue his love of sports, specifically golf, in the future. “The great thing about golf is that as long as my legs are healthy I can continue to play it,” he said. “That’s what makes golf special.”

Math teacher Chris Karas played soccer for the University of California Berkeley from 1971 to 1975. Karas has learned valuable lessons on and off the field, including how to manage time and handle competition.

After high school, he joined the team and was awarded Most Valuable Player (MVP) for Berkeley’s youngest lineup. Karas says one of his best memories was pulling off a miracle win during a game. “For me there was one time where I scored the winning goal with two minutes left,” he said.

According to Karas, Berkeley could only compete against regional teams—the competition, however, was still tough. “We were a middle-of-road team,” he said. “There wasn’t a Pac-12 back then, so we played locally against Stanford and Santa Clara, and nationally ranked teams like San Jose State University and the University of San Francisco, who always came in first and second.” The close geography between teams contributed to intense matchups. However, Karas believes the clash taught him about sportsmanship. “There was always a friendly rivalry between Berkeley and Stanford,” he said. “It wasn’t harsh off the field even though we competed pretty vigorously in our games. But when the game was over, it was over.” In another instance, Karas was surprised by UC Davis’ respectfulness after a game. “After a game at UC Davis, we were invited to a party that they hosted, which showed how positive and sportsmanlike the atmosphere in the college division was for me and my teammates,” he said.

Chris Karas:

Math teacher Chris Karas played soccer for the University of California Berkeley from 1971 to 1975. Karas has learned valuable lessons on and off the field, including how to manage time and handle competition.

After high school, he joined the team and was awarded Most Valuable Player (MVP) for Berkeley’s youngest lineup. Karas says one of his best memories was pulling off a miracle win during a game. “For me there was one time where I scored the winning goal with two minutes left,” he said.

According to Karas, Berkeley could only compete against regional teams—the competition, however, was still tough. “We were a middle-of-road team,” he said. “There wasn’t a Pac-12 back then, so we played locally against Stanford and Santa Clara, and nationally ranked teams like San Jose State University and the University of San Francisco, who always came in first and second.” The close geography between teams contributed to intense matchups. However, Karas believes the clash taught him about sportsmanship. “There was always a friendly rivalry between Berkeley and Stanford,” he said. “It wasn’t harsh off the field even though we competed pretty vigorously in our games. But when the game was over, it was over.” In another instance, Karas was surprised by UC Davis’ respectfulness after a game. “After a game at UC Davis, we were invited to a party that they hosted, which showed how positive and sportsmanlike the atmosphere in the college division was for me and my teammates,” he said.

Soccer also taught Karas lessons applicable to college and his future endeavors. “I learned a lot of different things like teamwork obviously, working with others, and how to find a healthy balance between school work and extracurricular activities,” he said. He has tried to pass on several pieces of advice to students. “Being able to set goals, achieving them by working hard, stepping up my game, and doing better than before are some of the things I’ve gained and would want others to gain as well,” he said.

Rachel Congress:

In high school, math teacher Rachel Congress played water polo at Menlo High School. According to Congress, she tried out for the team because she couldn’t find a sport that fit her. “I had tried basketball and I sucked at it, I had tried volleyball and I sucked at it, so I said, ‘Maybe I should try something that’s not on land, maybe I should try a water sport,’” Congress said. “I loved it. I loved it from the first day and was like ‘This is where I should be, in the pool’ and so I kept on doing it after that.”

Congress’s team won CCS twice: its first victory was the first year that girls’ water polo was held at CCS. “I remember feeling the adrenaline and a sense of euphoria for our team taking first place,” Congress said. “I think we couldn’t have won if we didn’t have such good team chemistry.”

Like many team athletes, the thing that Congress misses the most about water polo is being a part of a team. “I miss most the team dynamic. Having a team, for me, it was like having a second family,” Congress said. “No one could understand what it was like getting into a pool at 6 a.m. in the middle of winter. You have this camaraderie that you wouldn’t have with other people.”

As a water polo player, Congress believes that teamwork is extremely important. “If you’re out there to be a star for yourself, your team can’t be successful,” Congress said. “You have to be willing to put the team first.”

According to Congress, continuous participation in sports since a young age has changed her lifestyle. Congress has found that exercise has become a necessity. “I really believe that doing exercise early in my life has made exercise a set part of my life—it’s not a question,” Congress said.

Maria Powell:

Science teacher Maria Powell has coached softball for six years, but she has been playing since she was eight years old. She was on the varsity team starting her freshman year in high school. Her team was ranked number one in the state and won the CCS Championship. According to Powell, though she initially began playing because her two older sisters played as well, the sport has had a great impact on her life.

One of the things that first appealed to her about softball was that it was a team sport. “I like team sports because I like the idea of contributing to something bigger than myself,” Powell said. She believes that she wouldn’t have pushed herself as hard if she played an individual sport. “I was responsible for other people and other people were relying on me,” Powell said. “I didn’t want to go out there and do a halfway job or make a mistake because other people were depending on me.”

Many team sports foster this work ethic and mentality, but according to Powell, softball is unique because everybody plays a role. “No matter how small you think your contribution is, everybody has the opportunity to contribute and has something valuable to offer,” Powell said.

According to Powell, softball is also unique in that a win or loss isn’t dependent on a single person, but rather the team as a whole and the effort put in throughout the course of the game. “It is never just that last out that caused the loss, or that last run that caused the win,” Powell said.  “It is a whole series of events.”

Though Powell learned many things from softball, she believes learning how to sacrifice individual needs for the group and always do your best for the benefit of the team was the most important. “The difference between winning and losing is every single person putting 100 percent forward,” Powell said.

 

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