When Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School’s Angela Gauthier was a young woman in her native Louisiana, she was passionate about sports and wanted to become a physical education teacher. After graduating from high school, that dream was forced to come to a pause, as it wasn’t possible at that time and she decided to study computer sciences at college level.
After two years and not being able to finish her degree, Gauthier started working as a secretary at the Beaumont Independent School District in the early 1990’s. She then had the opportunity of her life as then district Superintendent Dr. Carrol Thomas encouraged employees to go back to school and get their degrees. Gauthier didn’t fickle at this chance.
“I was working with BISD as a secretary and then a lightbulb went off when Doctor Thomas was here and said that we’re sending everybody back to school to anybody that wants an education to teach,” remembers Gauthier. “That was my opportunity to say hey, I’m going to get back into this, that was my goal. I wanted to work with kids, I loved kids, I loved working with students. I took that opportunity, went back to Lamar (University), got my degree in education and that’s how it got started.”
Gauthier came to King Middle School a few years ago, taking charge of the basketball and volleyball teams at the school as well as the athletic department. Although she didn’t know at the time, she would lose her name and become known as Coach G.
“What happened is that when they first hired (former principal) Ms. Richard, she said instead of calling you coach Gauthier, I’m going to call you coach G if it’s okay with you,” explains Gauthier. “Ever since them they’ve called me coach G. They know my name but have an issue pronouncing it, so students when they start in sixth grade, they have an issue with pronouncing my name, but once they get to seventh grade or eighth grade it comes out coach Gauthier.”
Coaching came as a side effect of being a parent. When her son was 11 years old back in the 1990’s, she took him to Middle School and got involved in helping as an assistant coach, moving later to coach at a school in South Park, Texas.
While she encourages student participation in the school’s teams, Gauthier is very clear that for that to happen the students must be in good standing, both academically and in discipline
“They can come to you and tell you ‘Coach I’m going to play for you, I’m going to play volleyball, I’m going to play basketball.’ That’s fine and dandy, but, what is your behavior in class, what are your grades looking like? So, in order for you to do that, we need to work in your academics. When we say that, then sports. Academics… they already know academics are going to come first,” said Gauthier.
According to her experience, this has proven successful in making the students work on their grades and their behavior in class. Down the line, this becomes an important issue as most of her student-athletes in Middle School will not be able to make the cut at a varsity level in high school and college.
“They are going to do whatever they can to get the academics. There are some that we must keep tabs on, and that’s how coaching with me ties in into academics, because it’s not all about coaching for me”, adds Gauthier. “Because most of these kids that I do coach, they are not going to go to play at a high school level.”
At middle school, Gauthier’s goal is to get as many students as possible involved in sports to keep them focused on academics. Their participation will help them develop into future leaders.
“Getting them to play sports is an opportunity to get them to become a leader, not a follower. When you are there out on the court, you are fair, you have to have a mind of your own. You must think on your own, you have to know what to do on your own, even though we are getting you through the process. It is a kind of a space to get help them get from level one to whatever level it takes them to get where they have to go,” adds Gauthier.
Ever since she started as a coach, she has loved it as it’s something that helps Gauthier change students' lifestyles forever. No children are born knowing how to play a sport, and she’s more than happy to teach them the basics.
“I love the fact of coaching because I get to change their lives, and when I say their life I’m not just talking about the bad ones, the good ones, the depressed ones. I want to bring them all into saying hey, even though you don’t know how, come in, coach G will teach you a little something,” said Gauthier.
Green Dot Southeast Texas has partnered with BISD since 2021, serving a diversity of students and preparing them for the challenges of tomorrow. This statement is very clear to Gauthier, who has fully embraced the mission to prepare students for college, leadership and life.
“Green Dot was there to provide for those students, every student that was on this campus. They provider assistance and help each student to get them where they need to be so no child was left behind,” concludes Gauthier.