Parkview Christian’s Kayla Linden ‘loves the variety’ of coaching multiple sports, teaching different age levels

Parkview Christian coach Kayla Linden leads a gym class at the lower campus in Yorkville on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.

Kayla Linden, like other teachers and coaches at smaller schools, wears many hats.

That suits her just fine.

“I love the variety,” said Linden, who is in her 12th school year as a teacher and coach at Parkview Christian Academy in Yorkville. “Every day is a new day. When you’re a teacher, problem solving, every day is new, from class to class.”

Linden considers her path to Parkview a calling.

She worked with people with special needs for 12 years at the Fox Valley Recreation Center, but after having her second daughter didn’t go back to work. Linden, who lives in Yorkville, was a stay-at-home mom for three years.

“I was raising my girls and in that third year I said I have to do something,” Linden said. “I’m a people person. I have to be around people.”

By fate, Linden went to the same church as former Parkview athletic director Don Davidson and his wife. They reached out to Linden and said the school was looking for a physical education teacher.

“I told [the Davidsons] I’d love to know more about it, I’d love to get my daughters into a Christian school, but I couldn’t pay for it,” Linden said. “God opened the door for me. I thought I was going there for an interview and I was handed the job.”

Linden interviewed in 2009, and her first school year was 2009-10.

She started as a third grade math teacher and coached junior high volleyball, the head coach for eight years. She stepped down as coach for the next three years to see her two girls play. Linden also coached eight years of junior high basketball. Linden helped start Parkview’s high school girls basketball team for a year, and then stepped back down to junior high for three years with not enough girls to field a high school team.

Parkview Christian coach Kayla Linden leads a gym class at the lower campus in Yorkville on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.

Linden returned to coach the high school team, and this past season the Falcons enjoyed a wildly successful 23-1 season. She also does intramurals in the spring for elementary students and this spring is the assistant softball coach.

“I’ve been an athlete my whole life. Whatever season it is, you adapt,” said Linden, who played basketball and threw the shot put and discus in high school at Ottawa, then went on to the University of Saint Francis. “Basketball is my favorite sport but I also love volleyball. Seeing the girls progress is rewarding – growing in the sport, growing in their faith, being a good teammate, being a responsible citizen in your school.”

Linden has taught fifth grade advanced math the past few years, and has taught health at the high school level for 11 years. She’s also taught anatomy and physiology in high school, as well as P.E.

Education is in the family. Linden’s husband is a public school teacher.

“We’re all in, it’s who we are,” Linden said. “My biggest thing is investing in these students and letting each one of them know that they are created uniquely by God. It’s about building relationships. These kids know they are loved by those being able to live their faith out. I love to lead by example.”

Parkview Christian coach Kayla Linden leads a gym class at the lower campus in Yorkville on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.

As a coach and teacher who works with both younger and high school kids, Linden said it’s fun for her to teach the fundamentals at the elementary school level and then see their growth as they age up.

“When we’re in the basketball unit, I bring it; I’ve always done the workout with the kids,” Linden said. “I’m a big fan that if I’m going to ask athletes to run a mile, I’ll run a mile with them. It goes back to leading by example and putting your money where your mouth is.”

Linden looks to her calling as about building relationships, investing in kids – and inspiring them.

“Encourage means to put courage into someone. You have to do it in both, teacher and coach,” she said. “If you see me as a coach, I’m loud, always saying something, 75% is encouraging and shouting out but it also needs to be constructive criticism or you don’t get better. It’s about building relationships, showing them that I love them, being the hands of Jesus in the flesh and trusting the process as a coach. These girls know that I care about them. I love the connection.”