Written by Courtney Day of the Ashland Times-Gazette
and reprinted with permission from the Ashland Times-Gazette
After winning her second regional championship Monday (March 18), Ashland University women's basketball player Lindsay Tenyak celebrated Tuesday with her class of first-graders at Taft Primary School South.
The kids greeted their student teacher with the cheer, "Hip, hip, hooray! Texas all the way!" and Tenyak's mentor teacher, Jo Myers, brought doughnuts. Another win was added to the class's timeline of Tenyak's wins throughout the season, something Myers posted before Tenyak started at Taft.
Students have been excited this week, asking if they can go to San Antonio in Tenyak's suitcase, Myers said.
"We really feel like she's such a good example for the kids to follow," Myers said, adding that she likes to remind the students how much Tenyak and her team have to practice to be as successful as they have been.
Several of the students have been to Tenyak's games this semester with handmade signs that say things like "Go Eagles! Go Miss Tenyak!"
When Tenyak sang the national anthem on senior night, Myers said, 16 students were there to watch. Student Alex Hartsel goes to every game with his father, Myers said, and his classmates Alana Howman and Chloe Ediger regularly come to watch.
A group of teachers attended Monday night's game to support Tenyak and the team, and Myers said she and several other teachers wish they could travel to San Antonio to watch the team compete in the Elite Eight.
"The whole school has really embraced her," Myers said. "It's awesome having Lindsay. She's energetic and she relates with the kids well."
Although the games are too late for the students to watch at school, Myers said she plans to keep the students updated next week while the team plays in the Elite Eight.
Tenyak said balancing student teaching with her basketball schedule has taught her time management strategies.
"I feel like it will feel easy when basketball is over," she said.
Myers said Tenyak always works ahead, knowing she may have less time later to prepare for teaching.
Tenyak's teammate, Kaci Finfrock, taught physical education at Crestview Elementary School from the beginning of the semester through last week and began student teaching Tuesday at Madison High School in Mansfield.
Finfrock's mentor teacher at Madison, Jenn Steffy, said while her students don't know Finfrock well yet, they already are excited that her team is advancing to the Elite Eight.
The Crestview students, Finfrock said, showed her tremendous support throughout her time there. Like Tenyak's students, they asked her countless questions, told their parents about her and attended her games. They even asked her to autograph copies of the breast cancer awareness team posters she gave them.
When she wrapped up her student teaching experience at Crestview, the students gave her a banner she keeps in her apartment.
While she has enjoyed student teaching, Finfrock said the experience has not been without its challenges.
"For the very first week that I was student teaching and trying to balance basketball, it was very tough," Finfrock said. "It's handling two full-time jobs at the same time."
She starts her teaching job at about 7:30 a.m. and goes straight to practice after school. After a week or two of tired practices, Finfrock said she has fallen into a routine that allows her to get up early enough to have a good breakfast before school.
Finfrock said she has been overwhelmed by the support she has received not only from her students but also from the entire Ashland community.
"We've worked hard as a team. ... It's just been truly amazing to see how much the community has responded," she said.
In the locker room after winning Monday's regional championship game, Finfrock said the team discussed how much the fans' support has encouraged and helped them during the past couple of years.
"I truly believe we wouldn't have won without the backing of the community," Finfrock said of the last regional game. "It's hard for opposing teams to come into our gym with our community there."