Sports in American Culture class makes strides at PHS

Parkersburg High School teacher Samuel Vincent teaches the new elective Sports in American Culture at Parkersburg High School. The class teaches students the history of sports and students have had the opportunity to talk to famous guest speakers in the sports world. (Photo by Tyler Bennett)

PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg High School students who have an interest in sports have an opportunity to put that into the classroom in the new three-class elective Sports in American Culture.

A couple of years ago, PHS Principal Kenny DeMoss encouraged teachers to find electives students would find interesting.

Upon approval, teacher Samuel Vincent went to work on how he wanted to teach the class, but found there were few, if any, similar curricula available until he came in contact with a teacher in the Midwest. Vincent would modify what he learned through discussions, including gleaning information from college-level intro to sports management classes, and developed lesson plans.

“There are not very many high school classes like it, but I was able to find one online and I actually talked with a teacher, I think it’s in Nebraska, who has a very similar course,” Vincent said. “So he let me see kind of his standards and the pacing of what he teaches. So I modified that somewhat and that kind of gave me a little bit of a bouncing off point. Then I also looked at a lot of what colleges do for their intro sports management class, so that kind of gave me a sense.”

The class was supposed to be a semester-only elective, but Vincent pushed for it to be year-long. It had to be a year long to do it right, he said.

Parkersburg High School teacher Samuel Vincent distributes game pieces to students during a Sports in American Culture class. (Photo by Tyler Bennett)

Every Monday, the classes participated in a review game going over the previous week’s subject. Each student gets a playing board with a five-year window and they mark with a playing piece of which a sporting event took place in that window.

Gathering each student’s answer and making it one big score, the three classes have been in a competition on who can have the highest percentage of correct answers at the end of the year.

On Tuesday through Friday, Vincent will teach the class about a certain subject. This week the subject will be broadcast media.

Some of the sports discussed in the class have been football, basketball, baseball, tennis, the Olympics, golf and auto racing. Vincent said the main point of the class is for students to learn about sports in which they do not have an interest.

“NASCAR is a good example. I have some kids who are really into NASCAR, then I have other kids that’s not really their cup of tea,” Vincent said. “They like football or basketball better. But to me, the point of the class is for them to learn about all of these different aspects.”

Vincent also will provide YouTube videos and articles to students if they want to learn more about a sport in their free time.

Not only talking about sports and famous events, the course has also had some pretty famous guests to talk about their experiences in sports, offering advice and even answering questions from students.

Among the guests have been West Virginia University radio play-by-play announcer Tony Caridi, former ESPN college football analyst Mike Golic, Fox Sports rules analyst Dean Blandino, horse trainer Bob Baffert and Mike Eruzione, captain of the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team.

Vincent said the majority of the contact was just messaging people on social media or sending a letter if they were interested. With many guest speaking events now being virtual, he thought it would be more likely to get guests to participate.

“I really enjoyed it, when I was picking my schedule. I saw that it was one of the newer options and I thought since it’s my senior year, this might be good to experience new things,” senior Nicole Lincicome said. “I’m really glad that I did because I thought that we would just sit and talk about different sports and we wouldn’t really do anything with it. But Mr. Vincent took it to another level and started reaching out to Bob Baffert and Mike Eruzione and it really has become an enjoyable class. I really like it a lot.”

Vincent hopes field trips will be allowed next school year, as he plans for the class to visit PHS alumni and WVU Athletic Director Shane Lyons in Morgantown to give students a tour of Mountaineer Field and WVU Coliseum and even take questions from the students afterward.

Plans to take a trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, will also be in the works.


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