Pierson named 2011 PE Educator of the Year

Gabriel Agurcia, Staff Writer

All great athletes are not without great coaches, and DVC is no different. The DVC Hall of Fame can begin making room for another coach to add to the pantheon with track and field coach Shelly Pierson winning California Community College Physical Education Health Educator of the Year for 2011.

Pierson was born and raised in Lompoc, California. She was born with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung condition that causes periodic bronchitis and asthma flare ups. After just slight exercise she would experience terrible chest pain and sore joints and muscles.

A visit to the doctor one day offered a solution to her problem. The doctor told her that endurance activities could strengthen her lungs. “My dad was a jogger so I started running with him,” said Pierson. “From there everything justblossomed.”

Running went from being a solution to a passion. Pierson was recruited to run at Lompoc High. There she became far more serious about it. Female runners such as Mary Decker Laney, Ceci St. Geme and PattiSue Plumer. “They brought strength not only to women’s running but to women’s sports in general,” said Pierson.

Those influences made a serious impact on her life, as evidence of her long standing record. Pierson still holds the school’s two mile record with a time of 10 minutes, 51seconds.

After graduating high school she enrolled at Allen Hancock Junior College in Santa Maria, California. She then transferred to Cal Poly State University-San Luis Obispo after two years of junior college, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in kinesiology with an emphasis in sports medicine. There she also minored in biological sciences.

In the mid ‘90s, Pierson was hired at Clayton Valley High to teach biology and physical education, in addition to being the head coach of the women’s cross country and track and field teams. Success quickly followed. Her women’s teams won five North Coast Section Cross Country titles and were ranked nationally in 1996, finishing second that year in the Cross Country state championship.

She continued her teaching career at DVC. Pierson was originally hired solely as a teacher. She began teaching classes in sports medicine and  health and fitness. But following the reinstatement of the cross country and track and field teams in 2009, DVC chose her to be the new head coach.

Pierson doesn’t seem to mind the extra responsibilities. She stated that people may not know how much she truly enjoys her job. “I love working with college students and seeing them succeed. And I love seeing my students come back and give back to the school.”

However, she still focuses plenty of energy on her teaching duties. She has helped complete the development of an Associate of Science degree and certificate program in personal training and fitness instruction, as well as aiding the start of a school wide wellness program and a personal training internship.

All her hard work and dedication culminated with being named the California Community College Physical Education Health Educator of the Year for 2011. She was pleasantly surprised and very honored to receive the award, but said it wasn’t something she had marked as a goal.

Shelly Pierson’s story is one of a person overcoming extreme adversity to find great success. Shelly is definitely someone that people should gravitate to.

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