Through the annual Gaucho Gallop, high school P.E. teacher and coach Brian “Chuckie” Roth ’97 hopes his students will give UCSB a go.
“I always want to create and do new things,” explains Brian “Chuckie” Roth, a P.E. teacher at San Marcos High School who has coached there for fifteen years. “I have a lot of bold ideas for a PE Curriculum.”
He does indeed. Born in Arcadia, CA, Roth, who has also coached women’s swimming and water polo at Santa Barbara City College since 2013, brought the Royal Fitness Challenge course to his high school students. He also encouraged their participation in the Gaucho Gallop, the 5k race that has become a tradition at UCSB’s annual All Gaucho Reunion.
Roth acknowledges that “Many of my students have a lot of struggles and getting them to college will be challenging. However, if wanting to go to UCSB is started by graduating high school and then to SBCC and then to UCSB, I think that is a very doable and realistic path for many of them. I think being included in anything the University does is motivating for my students - they feel special to attend and always return to class Monday with stories, laughs, and more self-confidence.”
You are a kind of de facto “recruiter” for your alma mater. You were a history major at UCSB with a Minor in Exercise Health Science and athletic Coaching. What was your own time here like?
Attending UCSB was a big part due to the swimming program. I had such an amazing experience in and out of the water. My favorite history class was with [Professor] Laura Kalman and still remember her passion. I remember her crying in class talking about LBJ. I taught history for 6 years prior to being a PE teacher and I tried to emulate that passion into my history teaching and coaching.
From the coaching end I learned so much from Gregg Wilson [UCSB swim coach for 40 years] and Joe O’Brien ’85, [head coach of men’s water polo for 11 years and UCSB’s first two-sport All-American [water polo and swimming]. Coach Wilson taught me the value of competing and that hard work and dedication can get you far in life, but at some point, results and the ability to produce come into play. I learned to be a better competitor from the demands he placed on my swimming performances. If there was one word that I could use to describe Joe O'Brien it would be “passion.” He cared so much and instilled that into each of his athletes. I think all three of these people had a big impact on me and who I am today.
Describe the population of students you work with.
I work with every type of kid every day. My water polo and swimming teams are so different than my PE students. But I have everything from troubled youth who may not have a permanent home, to brand new immigrants who might be in their first day of school in America and not speak English. Then I also have the 4.6 student who wants to attend Stanford. I love the diverse populations I work with. I try and inspire all of them to be the best person they can be each day, and make a difference in the world and their community.
You started the Royal Fitness Challenge Course at San Marcos High School. Can you share what inspired you to launch the course and describe it?
The Royal fitness challenge course was a dream of mine. It started with wanting to teach every PE student how to swim. We teach about 160 or more kids a year how to swim, and the students who can swim are given instruction on snorkeling, survival swimming, and swimming training to improve fitness. Once I felt this program was strong and working, I wanted to do something new.
At first it was designed after the TV show The Biggest Loser where students would try to lose weight, improve confidence, and get exposed to community athletic events. I have gone away from the weigh- ins. Now my class runs 3-5 miles on Mondays, swimming Training Tuesday and Fridays, plays ultimate frisbee on Wednesdays, and on Thursdays attends Killer B Fitness workout studio. It is a lot, but the buy-in from kids has been overwhelming. They really get fit and it transcends to the classroom and overall confidence. In addition, one of the goals is life-long fitness, so we enter them in a multitude of community events where they learn that exercising is everywhere in our community and I think it really exposes them to a healthy lifestyle.
One example is the Gaucho Gallop. How did their participation in that event come about?
As part of the Royal Fitness Challenge Course each student is required to do one community event each semester. We love the Gaucho Gallop because it is a mixture of college kids, alumni, and community members. I think whenever you can get kids on a college campus, it is inspiring. I think it gets them to see the campus and in the back of their mind it instills the thoughts of "where am I going to college?” They love the Gaucho Gallop and always come back a more unified team after running the event.