While iPads and gym class may not seem to be a good fit at first, SCH coach Betty Ann Fish has found ways to integrate technology like this into her practices. (Photo courtesy of Meghan Ross)

by Brendan Sample

Betty Ann Fish, a coach at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy for 32 years, was recently given the HERitage Award from the Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education Recreation & Dance. The award is given to women that have made significant contributions to women’s sports in Pennsylvania.

Fish is currently coaching middle school field hockey and softball at SCH. During her time with the school, Fish has also been a coach for lacrosse, tennis, basketball, squash and volleyball teams.

Fish said that she was “humbled” by the award, particularly because this level of recognition typically goes to coaches that also participate in playoff games.

“Being recognized by your peers is an honor, and as a Middle School coach it is special, since there are no championships,” Fish said.

During Fish’s decades as a coach, some of the biggest changes she has seen in her field include a greater focus on wellness and increased connections between physical education and other subjects students learn about in classrooms. The latter change has been particularly notable, as she is always keeping up on what students are learning in their classes so that she can better integrate those same lessons into her practices.

Some examples of this reinforcement have included Pre-K students moving a giant, inflatable turtle across the gym when they were learning about turtles, scootering around a circuit designed to teach them about the heart using iPads for circuit training and jogging between cards on the floor designed to represent the stages of a butterfly’s life.

Using interactive technology has also been a major part of Fish’s coaching style, as she is interested in how such technology can potentially improve students’ experiences. This past summer, she presented at a conference at the International Society for Technology in Education, where she spoke about several different apps she uses as part of her regular coaching routine.

One of these apps is called BrainPOP, which hosts over 1,000 animated videos for educational purposes. Pulling up a video about how the heart works, Fish described how she pairs that with an exercise where she has her students pretend that they are traveling in the bloodstream through the heart.

It is important to Fish that she continues to new and exciting methods of teaching physical education for her students. Though certain fundamentals will always be present, she recognizes that finding unique methods to her coaching is important for both herself and the kids she teaches.

“I always try to infuse fresh ways of thinking and never want to get stuck in a rut,” Fish said. “It just makes it more exciting to find a new focus or new way of teaching fundamental skills.”

Brendan Sample can be reached at brendan@chestnuthilllocal.com