The life missions of teaching and coaching can be traced back to both Lauren Kosecki and McKenna Kelsay’s earliest beginnings.
Kelsay’s mother taught AP psychology for 33 years at Addison Trail High School and coached tennis and cheerleading. Her father was the school psychologist for 34 years and coached three sports.
Kelsay, a standout volleyball player in high school at St. Francis, followed in those family footsteps. She is now a history teacher and the varsity girls volleyball coach at Batavia.
“Teaching has been a part of me and I think it found me,” Kelsay said. “This is what you’re supposed to do and I truly feel that way. People say that. But I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else. A lot of it is because of the kids.”
Kosecki, the daughter of Hall of Fame Geneva High School football coach Rob Wicinski and a standout high school volleyball player, credits all of her past teachers and her dad for Kosecki becoming a teacher and coach.
“Everything they did, I wanted to be,” said Kosecki, who teaches special education and coaches girls varsity volleyball at Geneva. “Becoming a teacher and giving back – that’s what I always say about coaching, too – giving back to the sport and giving back to the kids. That’s what it’s about. It’s about the kids and making it a good experience for them.”
Kelsay and her older sister used to be sideline ball girls for their dad. One of her favorite memories was when her mom would invite the psychology class over on a Saturday morning for a review session before an exam.
Deep down, the pull and connection to the teaching world couldn’t be ignored. As the saying goes, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree – teaching and coaching alike.
“I saw my parents in it and saw how much they loved it,” Kelsay said. “Whether it was teaching [or] coaching, I was there all the time.”
Kosecki knew teaching would be her passion since middle school. That dream is now six years and counting.
“I never changed. I always wanted to be a teacher. I played teacher growing up. That’s what I was going to be,” Kosecki said. “Originally I thought [it was going to be] elementary education, but then I realized I really love that coaching aspect and the high school kids.
“[My dad] always used to say to me: ‘Lauren, I’ve never worked a day in my life.’ He goes, ‘Every day, teaching is different. Every day is unique.’ Kids make me laugh; something happens. I’ve never worked a day in my life.”
Kelsay was undecided about what subject she wanted to teach when she went to college at the University of Illinois.
The strong background with psychology already was established, but history soon emerged as the subject in which she found a connection.
“I love the storytelling,” Kelsay said. “I love the aspect [of] we can look at history and what’s going on today.”
Kelsay coaches varsity volleyball and boys track. The student and athlete dynamic has allowed Kelsay to know a large population of students.
“I’m huge on relationships. That’s what, I think, is the biggest aspect of teaching,” Kelsay said. “Yeah, it’s important to teach these kids history, but I also think the relationship aspect and being there for students, that’s really what I value in my teaching.
“This is my fourth year teaching freshmen [and fifth year overall], so I always tell the senior class, ‘You guys are the first class I was able to teach and coach.’ Honestly, sometimes it brings tears to my eyes because it’s so cool to see the kids grow up.”
Kosecki “loves seeing my [students] in a classroom setting as well as in the gym.”
“It’s two different settings, but I’m the same person and it’s great to build connections in two different ways,” Kosecki said.