It’s rare for a faculty member from a Division II school nestled in the “Bible Belt” of West Texas to be recognized at a nationwide event in South Carolina. It’s even rarer for that person to be your mom.
Deonna Shake, instructor of exercise science and health, and a dang good mother, might I add, was the recipient of the Educational Disc Golf Experience National Educator of the Year Award Saturday, October 19th.
The award, given annually at the United States Disc Golf Championships in Rock Hill, S.C., by the E.D.G.E. program and the Professional Disc Golf Association, goes to an educator who has perpetuated the sport of disc golf in his or her local community and shown exceptional teaching abilities in the sport.
The committee that selected the winner made a great decision, if I do say so myself.
“Each year, the E.D.G.E. staff selects an educator who is using disc golf in their program.We give the award to those that are using our curriculum and are making the most out of their job as educators,” Jon Lyksett, Executive Director of E.D.G.E. said.
My mom fits those parameters to a “t.”
The eighth award winner, Shake, attended a state exercise science convention in 2008, and saw a booth demonstrating how to properly putt in disc golf. Intrigued, she began asking questions about this sport, and the more she learned of it, the more convinced she became that ACU needed to offer a course dedicated to the sport.
“I instantly fell in love with the sport because it was fun and beginner-friendly, while still offering a platform of competition,” Shake said. “And it qualified as a lifetime activity.”
I can attest. After coming home from this convention, she was sold on the sport. Foreign to my family, my mom instantly wanted to take us all out to a local course and spend an afternoon together learning and laughing at our misfortunes and hardships on the course. Most families spend time together at the dinner table, we spend time our time together in an active manner. You practice what you preach. That’s the true definition of a teacher.
Joe Bell, chair and associate professor of exercise science and health, was also intrigued by the sport and possibility of adding it as a class at ACU when Shake approached him after attending the conference.
“Deonna was so excited about this opportunity. It was a new thing, so there were a few obstacles and struggles at first, but I could tell from the passion and attitude that Deonna exerted that this was something she really wanted to make happen,” said Bell.
In the fall semester of the 2009 school year, disc golf was offered for the first time as a class.
The new class filled up quicker than Usian Bolt’s 100-meter dash time and continues to be a huge success to this day. Shake teaches both classes offered each semester and loves what she does.
Shake realized that in order for the sport to progress locally and on campus, a course would be beneficial, not only for her class, but for the Abilene community as well.
She spearheaded the process of organizing the installation of ACU’s own disc course and raised $18,000 single-handedly, and the Wildcat Disc Golf Course opened on April 28, 2009.
Jay Reading, designer of the ACU course, a professional disc golf player and an E.D.G.E. representative, talked about the rarity of teachers like Shake.
“People teach for a variety of reasons,” Reading said. “It’s the people who teach with passion and commitment and who demonstrate a zest for life in their teaching that are the ones that are easy to spot. Their emotions and likability come through right off the bat, and they are a joy to be around.”
Those type of people, indeed are a rarity. But what’s even more rare is finding a mom better than mine.