Tag Archives: physical education

Pass it on: QC soccer star looks to inspire


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Queens College Athletics/Brian Ballweg

Every star athlete remembers that moment when a coach or teacher impacts their life in such a way that it changes the way they think about sports. Coaching mentors have a way of doing that – they can shift the gears in an athlete’s mind with a few timely and inspirational words.

Some college athletes use those motivational moments to achieve in-game glory, while others stretch the meaning and apply it to life after school.

Andrea Slavin knew what she wanted to do with her life long before her days as a soccer star at Queens College began winding to a close. Slavin, 22, saw her future in physical education as an elementary school student.

“My life has always been about giving myself to people and helping them,” said the Queens College senior. “There is no feeling better than the feeling when someone learns something because of you. If I’m a teacher and the kids leave better than they were when they started, that’s all I can ask for.”

Slavin has a way of altering situations for the better. When she graduates from Queens College, the Floral Park resident will own the school’s scoring record in women’s soccer with 42 goals in 52 games played.

“Whenever I get the ball, my first thought is to score because that’s my job,” she said. “When the ball is at my feet, if I know that I can score, then there is no other option. I don’t even think about it. And after I score, it’s just a big sigh of relief.”

Amazingly, the record belongs to Slavin even though she has never played a full season for the Knights as a result of injury.

She was always able to play through pain, only missing a couple of games here and there. But last season, Slavin suffered a torn meniscus, and for the first time, an entire season was taken away from her.

“That was the last thing I wanted to hear. When that season was taken away, it was one of the most devastating things I’ve ever experienced,” she said. “With every other injury I was always able to push through, but I just got to a point where I just couldn’t play.”

Not playing that season was a difficult decision for Slavin. Skipping that year meant that she would have to register for an extra semester at Queens College and miss out on finishing her college career with the girls she started with.

But sometimes the most difficult moments in life turn out to be the ones that shape us the most. It was that experience of sitting on the bench and keeping her teammates’ spirits high that helped to solidify her talents as a coach and motivator.

“The girls said it was important to hear my voice and that I was there with them,” she said. “They were hurt too that I couldn’t play with them.”

Slavin was able to come back from that injury and eventually break the record. She did it without fanfare – only telling her parents after she got home – because she didn’t want her teammates to think she was only playing for personal glory.

The soccer forward now moves on to coaching in an attempt to inspire a new generation of athletes. Slavin was recently chosen to coach soccer in a program focusing on positive youth development through sports. Up2Us, a national nonprofit coalition, plucked Slavin from the soccer field to serve as a Coach Across America at America SCORES NY in Summer 2012.

“I’ve never volunteered before and I’m nervous, but I couldn’t be more excited,” she said. “The rest of my life I’m going to work with kids and be a role model and improve their skills – so this worked out great.”

Sports were always a way for Slavin to let go and relieve stress – now she wants to give others that same opportunity. She also wants to be that coach, the one to flip the switch in a young athlete’s mind.

“For children who don’t have a great home life, I hope I can make a difference,” she said. “Hopefully I can be someone they would remember.”

Parents from P.S. 234 angry over unusable school gym


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

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Parents from P.S. 234 are exercising their voices in disapproval of the delay in reopening the school’s flood-ravaged gymnasium.

The elementary school, located at 30-15 29th Street in Astoria, has been without a gym since September due to damage caused by severe rain storms. The flooding produced “bumps” in the gym floor and has prevented the facility from being used thus far this semester, prompting many parents to wonder whether their children are receiving the proper physical education.

“It’s terrible,” said Fred Fowler, whose daughter Sydney is a fourth grader at P.S. 234. “The kids need the gym. Every school should have a working gym.”

Fowler said that his daughter is athletically active on the weekends, but that she “should not have to wait until then.”
Jackie Soto, who has two children attending P.S. 234 — eight-year-old Emily and 10-year-old Matthew — said her kids “miss gym” and that it is too cold to effectively exercise outside in the schoolyard.

According to Margie Feinberg, spokesperson for the Department of Education (DOE), the school has instituted extended recess time and adopted indoor exercise programs, such as Move to Improve and Activity Works, to compensate for the unavailability of the gym.

Assistant Principal Peggy Mouzakitis says the kids love the in-class programs, which combine for roughly 30 to 40 minutes of exercise, and called them a “good workout for their age.”

According to published reports, parents are claiming their children’s physical education has consisted of jumping jacks in the classrooms and movie screenings in the auditorium since the gym’s closure.

P.S. 234’s principal, Thea Pallos, assures the children are not watching films in lieu of gym, and believes Activity Works, a scientifically designed, interactive video program which aims to improve activity levels and healthy eating habits in young children, may be what the students are misidentifying as “movies.”

“The most important thing to us is that the kids are stimulated in every way,” said Pallos, who admitted physical education at the school has been more difficult without a gym. “Students and parents have been frustrated, because some children leave the building and can’t play outdoors after school. So we want to make sure we can give them those opportunities at school. There have been challenges and we are certainly trying to meet them.”

Among the challenges highlighted by Pallos was the sharing of their schoolyard, where physical education classes have sometimes been held this semester, with I.S. 235, a neighboring middle school which also utilized the out-of-order gymnasium.

Senator Michael Gianaris says Pallos and parents have contacted his office to request he get involved in facilitating the fixing of the flooded floor.

“We have a number of parents very concerned that this problem has dragged on for way too long and their kids are without the physical education they need,” said the senator. “There is no excuse for the mismanagement of this situation. At a time when kids are supposed to be getting physical education, they are busy doing activities during which they are stagnant and not moving. Due to high child obesity, we have to make sure our children are getting the exercise they need. On this issue, the DOE has failed miserably.”

According to a DOE spokesperson, the School Construction Authority (CSA) will install a temporary floor while the students are off for winter break. The floor will be in position for the start of the second semester, and a permanent floor will be put in place during the spring, after exterior drainage work is performed.