Honor Gard

Author: Mark Allemand, ASEP marketing manager


Carmen Gard, 16-year ASEP coaching education instructor in Kansas, reflects on classroom experience

“I became an ASEP Coaching Principles and Sport First Aid instructor in 1994,” says Gard. “Although I was a certified teacher, I opted to take the ASEP course because I had no training or experience in coaching. I loved the course, and I originally became an instructor thinking I would just be training new cheer coaches, but soon I had coaches of all sports signing up for my clinics.”

Gard would conduct the Sport First Aid clinic Friday evening and teach Coaching Principles on Saturday. “There were times when I had coaches who admitted they were less than enthusiastic about spending two days in my clinic, but afterward they said how much they learned from the program and how glad they were that they were there.”

As a long-time instructor, Gard feels the classroom course is the best environment for learning and sharing. “I was able to relate real-life activities and stories from my experiences as a coach and my husband’s experiences as an athletic director, as well as tap into the collective knowledge and experience of the coaches in my clinics, that lent so much to the learning experience,” she says. “The Coaching Principles course includes so many engaging activities and coaching scenarios that spur great conversation and debate. Some of the best discussions revolved around the question ‘What would you have done in that situation?’”

As for first aid, hands on is the best for learning, according to Gard, although not without its humorous moments. “In my clinics, I demonstrated how to perform the Heimlich maneuver, then had the coaches pair off to practice the technique,” she says. “At one particular clinic, one of my coaches thought he had a better way of positioning himself to perform the maneuver, but the other guy ended up pulling him over, and they both ended up in a heap on the floor. One of the other coaches wryly said, ‘Mrs. Gard tried to tell you that wouldn’t work.’ We all got a big laugh out of it.”

Francine Martin, assistant director at the Kansas State High School Activities Association, co-taught ASEP courses with Carmen for many years. “Carmen is a very conscientious, caring person who always went above and beyond to ensure coaches got their classes completed.” The Heimlich also came to mind for Martin: “When we did the section on choking, Carmen always told the story of one of her cheerleaders choking on a big wad of gum and having to do the Heimlich on her.” While the Heimlich may have been Gard’s forte, technology wasn’t. Quips Martin, “She seldom wanted anything to do with the DVD player, TV, or projector.” In the end, coaches came away from Gard’s clinics better prepared to coach, says Martin. “Carmen could relate to all types of coaches, and they respected her knowledge.”

A change Gard saw over time was that schools couldn’t get enough coaches. Rule 10 coaches (non-faculty) became more and more common, many of them kids whom she’d had when they were students. “One of the most enjoyable aspects of being an instructor was seeing my former students returning to the school to serve as coaches and to see where life was taking them.”

For information on how to become an ASEP-certified Coaching Principles or Sport First Aid instructor (at no cost to you), contact Jerry Reeder at 800-747-5698, ext. 2325 or JerryR@hkusa.com.