KINESIOLOGY & ATHLETICSClaire Elkins
In the spring of 1975 I visited Saddleback College for an interview as the new tennis courts were being completed. Doug Fritz, the Athletic Director, and I were sitting on a bench as the fences were going up and looking around at the surrounding grassy lawns. It was a new and spacious college. I had arrived from Texas after teaching four years at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, Texas, and looking into community college opportunities. One month later, Doug called and offered me a part-time job teaching tennis and then initiating the Women’s Tennis Team. In 1977, I became a full-time professor and added health education classes, and eventually yoga and conditioning. My undergraduate degree in health and physical education was from Texas A&M University, and a Master’s of Education in health education from the University of Texas. Saddleback College was a perfect fit for me to coach and to continue as a professor until retiring in May 2009.
During the 18 years of coaching the women’s tennis team, I was fortunate to have many talented young women who mostly lived locally. We had students who won prestigious tournaments such as The Ojai, and the State Community College Tennis Tournament. Many did well in the conference and regional tournaments and were able to go on to four-year schools earning scholarships. That continues today with our teams. During that time, Bill Otta was the Men’s Tennis Coach and he was extremely successful with his teams and also a great friend to me. In May of 2010 I was inducted into the California Community College Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame.
As many teachers have been able to do here at Saddleback, I was able to attend conferences to enrich my classes and myself. I explored holistic health and yoga and was able to incorporate these subjects into my courses. We added the Women’s Health Education course in 1985 as part of our division and the Women’s Studies Department, which was a thriving department at that time. After beginning yoga classes here at the college in 1978 with Vince McCullough, I also took classes from outside the college. Shortly, I began teaching here with Vince, and though I have retired, he has not as of now (2013). Thanks to Vince, the yoga program is one part of a very dynamic East Arts program of Saddleback College.
When I first started teaching at Saddleback, there was only a four-way stop sign at the bottom of the hill at Marguerite Parkway. Traffic was light and we needed students in order to grow. We probably had about 6,000 students. At that time, we could have a “full” class with 12 students. Over time, those requirements changed in order to retain a class and, along with that, repeating classes also changed at the state level. That certainly made a difference for us teaching classes that aren’t required!
What an amazing 35 years as part of Saddleback College. So many friends were made from colleagues, administrators, coaches and players, students and support staffers! I appreciated my whole experience here and we definitely experienced it all!