Aca-Deca team has dedicated coach
Angela Stegall, English teacher and coach of the Academic Decathlon team at Marysville High School, has been teaching for 16 years and coaching for 10 years. The Academic Decathlon is a team competition in which students compete against other high schools in 10 subjects. Each year's competition is centered on a theme; this year's theme is the Great Depression. This year, there are nine members on the MHS team.
"The fact that the team is so diverse — not all 'A' students — has always been a big draw to me," Stegall said. "As an educator, I'm also drawn in by the love for learning that is evident in the students and the program in general. We've won state competition three or four times," Stegall added, exuding her dedication and passion for the team.
A few of this year's team members brought "Steg's" dedication to light:
Elyssia Niswonger, a junior, spoke about Stegall with admiration: "Stegall is our passionate coach that has led us to many state competitions that we win. She is extremely dedicated to Aca-Deca and works hard to make sure we always have materials for Aca-Deca or snacks for our after-school practices. She is the team's second mom with everything she does for us. She's the bomb. I love her."
Elyssia said that she is already looking forward to next year's Academic Decathlon season.
Kristine Pinckney, a senior, admitted, "(I returned to the team) because I wanted to win again. It sounds stupid, but that's pretty much it. It's all about hard work, dedication, not giving up and having to read, study and test on 10 different subjects. And Stegall is absolutely amazing — she works harder than all of us put together. She makes sure we're reading and studying, and she helps us if we have problems, even outside of Aca-Deca. She's just a great coach."
Abby Wissink, a junior, said, "Everyone wanted me to (join). ... Plus, my brother was on the team, and I thought it would be a good experience. Ms. Stegall gives up a lot of her personal time and money and lets us go to her house to study. And she gives us food. She's really cool! For right now, Aca-Deca is kind of my life ... until competition."
Despite this hard work, when asked whether or not she'd return next year, Abby exclaimed, "Yes! Of course!"
Christian Lopez, a senior, said, "I returned because of the experience and the people. I am really proud to be a part of something like the Academic Decathlon. It is a way for me to challenge myself academically. But it also a lot of fun. And Stegall is the best coach ever! Without her, we wouldn't function. ... We couldn't win without her. On our team trips, people mistake her as our mother — and, when you think about it, she feeds us, and in my book, that makes (her our) mother," Christian laughed.
All of the interviewed students seemed happy to know Stegall and to be part of such an intellectual and friendly group.
Chynna Martinez is a senior at Marysville High School. Her column appears every six weeks in Education.