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Rising Stars: A High-School Coach Plays for a Living

By Laura Gordon

Amy played four years of varsity soccer as a student at USC. When she graduated, she stayed on as an assistant soccer coach at USC and developed a passion for coaching that ultimately led her to a job as a high school head coach and Physical Education teacher.

Name: Amy Ray
School: University of Southern California
Major: Social Sciences
Years Out of College: 5-10
Title: P.E. Teacher and Head Soccer Coach
Company: Private School
First Steps

As a natural athlete and a sports fan, there was no real doubt in Amy's mind that she would pursue a job in the sports industry. After a four-year college career in varsity soccer, Amy was able to use her connections with the USC athletic department to get a job working for Gatorade. She was passionate about the product, and the job convinced her that the next step in her career should keep her involved with athletics.

From Then to Now

Amy continued to work for Gatorade, but since her hours were flexible, she was able to also take on a job as head coach of the girls soccer team at a new private high school. Her big break came when they offered her a position teaching Physical Education at that same school. "I love changing the lives of youth in a positive way. I love proving the importance of good health and proper fitness. I love my job and feel honored to be where I am. I know that I would not be here if it wasn't for my experience as a student athlete at USC."

Challenges Faced

"I always said I wanted to be a teacher but after graduating college I didn't think it would happen because I didn't major in Education." However, Amy's major in social sciences and psychology proved more valuable than she could have imagined for the wellness curriculum she now teaches. Contrary to some stereotypes of high school gym teachers, Amy's job involves more than just jumping jacks; she also lectures on nutrition, stress management, anatomy, and Olympic history.

Her schedule can be a grueling one--she teaches three sections of P.E. each day and then heads straight to the soccer field for practice or a game. But her enthusiasm for physical activity makes it a pretty ideal fit for Amy. When asked if her career path took her in an unexpected direction, she says, "in a way I am surprised but in a way I feel like I am where I am supposed to be because it is what I love and what I do best."

Did I Ever Think I'd End Up Here?

Amy is in her dream job. She raves: "I honestly would love to stay at the job I am in now for a long time, if not forever." Located just off the Pacific Coastal Highway in Southern California, her school's beautiful setting is yet another perk of the job, and one that makes it an ideal place for outdoor activities.

Advice for Others

"My dad would always encourage me to go 'one step farther' with everything I do. I feel like when I was coaching and offered the teaching position, I was motivated to continue to go farther. A year after teaching P.E. and coaching, I was offered the Assistant Athletic Director position and did that for 3 years, along with teaching P.E. and coaching soccer."

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