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STAFF PHOTOS BY SUSAN USHE*
A WARM-UP ROUTINE is part of gym class for students and physical education teacher Ron Champion, center.
CHAMPION RECEIVES AWARD FRIDAY
State Physical Educator Of Year
' Champions' Fitness For All Ages
BY SUSAN USHER
According to Webster's a champi
on is the holder of first place or the
winner of first prize in a contest, es
pecially in sports; or a defender, ad
vocate or supporter of a cause or an
Shallotte Middle School's Ron
Champion is a champion by both
In his 18th year as a physical edu
cation teacher, the Holden Beach
resident is a strong advocate of ex
panded physical education in the
schools and of fitness as a lifestyle,
and a solid role model for the chil
dren he teaches.
On Friday Champion will be hon
ored as \<m Middle School Physi
cal Educator of the Year by the N.C.
Alliance for Health, Physical Educ
ation, Recreation and Dance (NCH
PERD) in Greensboro at its annual
That same day he will also be in
stalled as president of the 2,4(X)-plus
member organization, only the sec
ond classroom teacher to hold that
office in the Alliance's 72-year his
tory. His term as president-elect,
which included responsibility for
planning this week's conference,
ends Friday. He has also served a
term as vice president.
He was nominated last year by
Principal Mark Owens, who has
since retired but is expected to at
tend the awards ceremony along
with the school's assistant principal,
Champion says he couldn't main
tain his involvement in professional
associations and his workload with
out the support of the school and his
coworkers, especially fellow physi
cal education teacher Richard Hub
bard and Phil Wemyss.
He teaches full-time at Shallotte
Middle, teaches a PE course for col
lege transfer students at Brunswick
Community College, serves as youth
director for Brunswick County
Parks and Recreation Department,
and travels across North Carolina
leading workshops and giving talks
on physical education topics.
At Shallotte Middle he works
with 11 classes of 30 kids each in
grades 5-8. Students come to his
class every other day.
In the little time Champion has
with each class, his goal is to moti
vate students to take charge of their
own fitness, encouraging them to
adopt healthy habits that will last a
"Sometimes you feel like you're
kicking a dead dog, trying to get
kids to care about themselves. The
most frustrating thing is getting
them motivated to accept some re
sponsibility for themselves," said
Champion. "It's hard to get an
eighth grader to look ahead."
"What I like best is taking a kid
who doesn't like to do something
because he doesn't think he's com
petent, and getting him to do it."
To make that happen. Champion
tries varied teaching methods, inte
grates PE with students' other work
when possible and offers activities
in which all children can participate.
He also makes time to listen to his
At the start and end of the school
year students are tested for fitness ?
abdominal strength, agility, cardio
respiratory endurance. In between
they learn the fundamentals of a va
riety of team and individual activi
ties: soccer, flag football, basketball,
volleyball, softball, tumbling and
jump rope and in winter, "lots of
Shallotte Middle students also
participate in the President's Chal
lenge Fitness Program and in Jump
Rope for Heart with the American
Heart Association under Champ
"He makes it fun," sixth grader
Jennifer Kennedy explains during a
break as three classes play a rainy
day game of dodge ball in the gym.
Champion doesn't talk in terms of
"winning" and losing," especially
when it comes to youngsters.
"I think too much emphasis is
placed on winning and losing," he
says. "They have enough pressure
on them as they get older."
The T-shirt he's wearing sums up
Champion's philosophy: "P.E.
Champs" is printed on the front,
"Play Hard, Play Fair ? Be A Win
ner" on the back.
"He tells you to try, to do your
personal best," says student Jewelia
After earning a bachelor of sci
ence degree at the University of
North Carolina at Wilmington,
Champion taught and coached four
years at Youngsville High School,
then came to West Brunswick High
School in 1979. At West he taught
physical education, coached foot
ball, basketball and baseball, and es
tablished an intramurals program
that won statewide recognition.
Since transferring to Shallotte
Middle School in 1986, he's been
instrumental in organizing a physi
cal education club and an intramu
rais piugram, and in getting a fitness
Going to school nights and sum
mers, he earned a master's degree in
physical education from the
University of South Carolina.
The Alliance selects a winner in
each of four divisions: elementary,
middle, high and college teachers.
Criteria include the nominees' ser
vice as a positive role model for stu
My dinc&te thanks
fm yowi tupfxvtt in iait umk'i,
election at Sutuet Sieach.
PAIDBYCOMMHTtEFORREPRESENTATlVE GOVERNMENT, JOSEPH BRANDEL, TREASURER
dents, leaching methodology, ser
vice to community, professional
growth and development, awards
and honors, and significant achieve
ments in their field.
Champion would like to see in
creased focus on fitness, particularly
in the elementary grades where stu
dents often only see a physical edu
cation specialist once a week.
His concern echoes data from
both national and state Children's
Fitness studies that indicate North
Carolina youngsters and their peers
nationwide are in very poor physical
condition and that not enough is he
ing done cither at home or in the
schools to change that.
"Since parents seldom exercise
with their children, schools must
provide quality physical education
programs that will improve the
physical fitness levels of North
Carolina youth," the study recom
"They need more physical educa
tion," says Champion. "Not just
playing, but why, what is it doing
"Once a week is not a lot. and it's
been shown that a health body goes
along with a healthy mind."
CRYSTAL LUDLUM points out a situation on the playing court to
Champion. She 's not his student , hut was among the three classes
sharing the gym on a rainy day last week.
for your overwhelming sup
port in last week's election.
It's an honor to serve you,
and my pledge is to repre
sent the majority interest. I
look forward to carrying on
the programs the communi
ty supports to provide the
services the town needs
Sunset Beach Town Council
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