Two on, one out, winning run at the plate in the PA 1-5B World Series. The batter, a 21-year-old engineering major by trade, rolls up a grounder with game-ending double play written all over it. The second baseman, twice the age of the batter, grunts as he scoops up the bouncing ball and starts the DP as he has done tens of thousands of times before. Toss, catch and throw. Game over. Class dismissed.
“And that’s how it’s done,” UCSB Baseball Head Coach Bob Brontsema says from his at second base. Another lesson learned in the series of classes that gets students out on courts and fields to play games for university credit.
Academic life on a university campus can be stressful, monotonous, hectic, and any other mix of emotions and experiences. Every good pitcher has something in his bag of tricks to change the pace, and the physical activities classes offered at UCSB can do just that for former athletes and current sports enthusiasts.
Listed in school schedules as PA 1 courses, physical activities courses cover a wide range of sports and athletic activities, from fencing and sailing to weight training and racquetball. PA classes are also arranged by skill level, so a student can rest at ease if he or she has never swung a tennis racket or a golf club and enroll in the elementary course. [[so students can compete against others with similar levels of experience.]]
“PA classes are a great way to get outside, be active, continue to play the sport you desire, learn something, and get half a unit for doing it,” Brontsema said. Brontsema is one of several coaches at UCSB who teaches the same NCAA sport he manages for the University during the regular season. PA sports are perfect for athletes who lack the elite status required to play Division I sports but yearn to improve and stay in shape. Learning a sport is most effective when taught by a coach familiar with college athletes who knows the game’s ins and outs.
Most sports are offered year-round, and most are faithful to the division of skill levels. UCSB Women’s Volleyball Head Coach Kathy Gregory enjoys teaching Elementary Volleyball the most of all of her PA 1 classes. “The students’ love for volleyball and desire to be coached makes it a lot of fun,” Gregory said. “The students who show up are competitive and dedicate time to learning the sport.”
As well as offering a physical change of pace from academics, PA classes also encourage sports enthusiasts to connect with each other.
“It’s hard to meet people in regular classes,” Gregory said. “PA classes are great for meeting people and making friends.”