Director of Athletics and Head of Health Leadership and Fitness
Cunningham spent four years at Niagara University playing college basketball, and is the program’s all-time leading scorer. She was a former Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Year, and spent several years playing professionally in countries all over the world.
Buffalo Seminary is an independent day and boarding high school for college-bound girls. In 2009, Cunningham joined the staff as the assistant athletic director, and her role has grown since. She now serves as the school’s athletic director, as well as the head of health leadership and fitness, and also as the head basketball coach.
Interview with Eva Cunningham
WHAT IS THE GOAL OF YOUR HIGH SCHOOL’S ATHLETIC PROGRAM?
We actually received a grant from the Wilson Foundation to start the new fitness program. As we were doing that, we heard of CoachMePlus. We contacted them to try to get a fitness program that was designed for us instead of the traditional gym classes.
The goal was to do something that would promote life-long fitness for our girls. That’s kind of how we got started. It’s a web-based independent study for fitness that promotes girls to find things they like outside of just the regular gym class.
We have yoga, we have a personal trainer come in to talk to them, we have PiYo classes, and we have three spinning bikes that the girls enjoy. It’s just a little bit different than your traditional gym classes.
HOW DOES COACHMEPLUS HELP YOUR HIGH SCHOOL ACHIEVE ITS GOALS?
The way we use it is the girls each have their own page or account that they have and it’s built for them. We have athletes who use it; we have kids who really aren’t into athletics that use it.
It’s a way to promote life-long fitness, and just give them a chance to be able to do things they enjoy or find something that they enjoy doing. Whether it’s yoga, Pilates, it can be basketball, it can be field hockey, or it could be really anything that they’re interested in.
I think that helps our students out a lot because not all of them are on athletic teams, so I think that’s a way to promote fitness after high school for girls that don’t go on to play college athletics.
DO YOU USE COACHMEPLUS JUST FOR TEAM SPORTS, OR DO YOU ALSO USE IT FOR P.E. AND GYM CLASSES?
Currently, we use it more for the fitness aspect of it for P.E. classes and gym classes. That’s how we started it and that’s why we started it because the traditional gym classes just weren’t working here at our small school.
It was set for an independent study for fitness. Freshmen and sophomores will come in and do the workouts right at school, and juniors and seniors can do it at home, on the weekend, and that teaches them the responsibility of getting a workout in and how important it is for their overall health.
HOW DO YOU EVALUATE PHYSICAL EDUCATION FOR STUDENTS USING ACCEPTED GRADING METRICS?
We actually hired a trainer on top of getting CoachMePlus, and he was able to build programs within CoachMePlus, which has really helped.
We have programs for our freshmen and sophomores, and we have programs for our juniors and seniors. They can go in and work on that program today or however many days we require.
Right now, we require at least an hour and a half per-week of the five-day cycle that you have to get a workout in and log that in. A lot of girls are doing more than that, which we like to see.
For our grading system, it’s a pass/fail class. If you’re doing the workouts and logging the workouts in and I can see that on my end, you will get a pass. If you’re not or not getting the required time limit, you will get a fail. CoachMePlus lets us track all our students on one digital platform.
HOW HAVE THE STUDENTS REACTED TO COACHMEPLUS?
The main problem is the students not logging in their workouts. They may say they’re working out, but if they don’t log it in, I can’t see it on my end. That’s where we get into a little bit of trouble, and I think it’s just reminding them constantly – you have to log in 90 minutes per week.
When parents call me, I can show them their student’s account and show them that they’ve logged in on certain days, but then there were two weeks where they decided not to log anything in or workout. It’s really easy for parents to see what their daughters are actually doing.
One time, grades were coming out at the interim and this one student had nothing logged in, nothing on her page. She came down and said, ‘What do you mean there’s nothing on my page?’ I showed her that there was nothing there, then showed her a student who had been logging in workouts and what her page looks like. She was in shock.
That night, the parents called me and didn’t understand why she was getting a fail on her interim report card. I told them that if they logged into her account, they would see that she has nothing logged in. It said she had done no workouts, and it was pretty funny because I think they were more in shock, and then I didn’t hear back from them again. I think they realized that maybe she hadn’t been doing her job. It helps me out a lot because I can actually show them that.
DO YOU PLAN TO USE COACHMEPLUS WITH ANY OF YOUR ATHLETIC TEAMS?
When we first started this, our goal was to eventually add the sports into this. With the Wilson Grant we got, that was mainly for the fitness aspect. Once we get the fitness aspect of it down, we’ll look to move on to our athletic teams and to be able to have our coaches be able to put workouts in there. When it’s spring break and there are no practices, the coaches can go in there and put in a workout for the girls. We’re excited about the next step of that.
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