Whitman SSRAs offer outlet for coaches and students alike


Keifer Nace

Alex Honeyman climbing at his Beginning Rock Climbing SSRA class

Grant Laco, Staff writer

Finding yourself with some extra time in your schedule? Why not try out one of Whitman’s Sport Studies, Recreation, and Athletics classes? In the spring semester, Whitman will be offering 28 SSRA courses after offering 23 this fall. New classes that will be available include beginning skiing, beginning snowboarding and triathlon sports.

Varsity coaches frequently teach SSRA courses. To find out a little more about the draw of teaching these courses, The Pio reached out to a couple varsity coaches turned instructors: Women’s Varsity Tennis coach John Hein, who teaches Beginning Tennis, and Women’s Varsity Golf coach Skip Molitor, who teaches Beginning Golf.

“[The courses] give us an opportunity to share the passion that we have for our sport with the general student body … it’s a ton of fun to work with beginners and people who are just trying it out,” said Molitor.

When asked about the contrast between teaching a varsity sport and a beginning course, Molitor reflected on his experiences with both.

“It’s very enjoyable to be able to combine those two … it’s enjoyable to work with very high level players who have played competitively for many years, but equally enjoyable to teach someone who’s never picked up a club before. I would rather be asked to teach beginning golf as opposed to only working with varsity players,” he said.

Molitor believes that he is not alone in this sentiment.

“Most of us [varsity coaches] would lean towards having that opportunity, to interact with these students who are new to the sport,” he said.

Coach Hein confirmed Molitor’s statement, speaking very highly of the ability to spread his enthusiasm for tennis to a new crowd.

“I love the beginning tennis class, both because of its differences from team practice and for its similarities,” Hein said. “While the content is at a higher level with the team and we’re building everyone’s game over a longer period of time, the principles of how to improve at tennis remain the same. I guess that’s what I love, is using the game that I’m passionate about to meet new students … my class allows me to do that while my team allows for a much deeper teaching opportunity.”

Senior Anna Sheridan, a student in Hein’s beginning tennis class, spoke to her experience so far.

“You can really tell that everyone is improving and it’s exciting to finally be able to volley and to play games,” Sheridan said. “John is wonderful and encouraging and makes time for us before or after class if we want extra practice or have a question. Whitman has so many tennis courts (both indoor and outdoor) and it’s going to be so nice to be able to play (and look like I know what I’m doing) on the weekend just for fun!”

Despite how much Sheridan and her classmates have improved, that wasn’t necessarily the goal going into the course for everybody. It’s perfectly acceptable to join an SSRA for reasons other than an ambition to get better at the sport or activity.

“I took tennis because I needed a break in my schedule and it’s a great excuse to get outside,” Sheridan said. “I have a lot of friends with different majors who I would never have a class with, and we decided to take this class together.”

Many are hesitant about adding an SSRA to their schedule—perhaps it seems like the time commitment is too much for a busy college student for just one credit. Take it from these students that it might be worth your time to try one out. Coaches Hein and Molitor emphasize the value of mixing up your schedule well.

“At the end of the day, sports engage the body and the mind simultaneously and I think that is a crucial part of education and is something [that] every student can carry into their life after Whitman as they work to balance health, wellness, and fun with their intellectual work,” said Hein.

Molitor agreed wholeheartedly.

“It’s nice to get a group of students together and just relax and have some fun! No grades, no expectations… just, let’s get outside and enjoy picking up some new skills and [trying] something that we might have a little bit of experience in, or that we haven’t done at all. It’s a relaxing, enjoyable stress reliever.”