by Brissa Reyes
Believing in the next generation of great minds is just one thing a teacher does. They make a positive impact every day, by inspiring students and adults alike. Whether it’s in an English classroom or out on the baseball field, these amazing individuals who have made a grand impact on our lives are the ones we have to thank for all the knowledge we cherish. This week at Kings River Life we would like to shine the light on Reedley High School Mathematics teacher and sports coach, Tim Warkentin. A man who has taught many the importance of hard work and sportsmanship, and never ceases to make the people around him smile.
Tim has taught in the Kings County Unified School District (KCUSD) for thirty-four years and at Reedley High since 1984, teaching a variety of classes such as Consumer Math, Computer Literacy, Algebra, Arithmetic, and Latin Dance. On top of teaching, he has coached a wide range of sports, all the way from football, basketball, and track to swimming and water polo.
Raised in Reedley and an Immanuel High alumni, he decided he wanted to become a teacher to coach sports. “I was encouraged to do something in the area of my strengths. What I was good at was sports. Also, I learned more about “life” through my coaches who taught us about discipline, fairness, commitment, sportsmanship, how to be a man, father, etc. Therefore, I wanted to coach young athletes and treat them as I was treated. Helping them to learn these things too.” Since then, he has been dedicated to motivating students to achieve success not only academically, but through athleticism as well.
He attended Biola University in Los Angeles, and five years later after graduating, was involved in the Athletes in Action organization where he played basketball and lived in British Columbia, Canada. With this group, he traveled around the world playing against universities in the U.S. and Canada and against Olympic teams such as Russia, China, Mexico, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and France. “We used the skills of basketball to share the gospel of Jesus Christ to thousands of people,” says Warkentin.
Warkentin is passionate about sports and loves to see his players and students succeed. He recalls one of his favorite moments, although there are many, as the time RHS won a basketball game against Golden West against all odds some years ago. “I was coaching JV Boys basketball and one of my players was Mr. Daren Minami, Reedley High School’s present athletic director. We were playing Golden West in Visalia and they were the best team in our league. Before the game, their coach (he was young) came up to me and told me he didn’t know what to do. He proceeded to tell me that his best point guard was sick and his best post player had been suspended and unable to play. First of all as a coach you should never give your opposition any chance of hope of beating you (which he did). I went into the locker room before the game and gathered my team. I shared that information with them and changed the game plan. We had a chance to beat Goliath. We went into our ‘Boyd Grant’ mode and stalled the entire game. It came down to the last play of the game. I called timeout and told my point guard to wait until the very end then drive in go for a layup to tie to shoot for over time. Well, the plan was executed perfectly. He drove in, went up, and passed to Mr. Minami who was standing outside the three-point line. He caught the ball as I was yelling, ‘NOOOOOOOO!’ Daren shot the ball and made the shot winning the game by one point. It was awesome!”
Along with his love for sports, he shares a love for making connections with people, this including his students, coworkers, and coaches he has worked with throughout the years and in which he has made great memories and friendships. Gao Lee, a Statistics teacher at RHS and friend says, “He is very personable and has lots of fun stories to tell. The students love him!” She notes the size difference between them as Warkentin is especially tall and includes “I remember one time he came into my class for something, and when he walked out he pretended to hit his head on the top of the door frame. It was hilarious!” Students and teachers alike agree that he is a joy to work with and is very light-hearted.
Angelina Figueroa, a senior at RHS includes, “Mr. Warkentin is an amazing teacher! He is easy to understand, and very engaging when teaching. He made math fun.”
In his leisure, Tim enjoys flying RC Radio Planes, spending time with his family, and of course, all kinds of sports. “There is a group of us that go on Saturday mornings and enjoy flying all kinds of planes. We do loops, figure eights, victory rolls, and yes, we crash sometimes. I crashed my plane into a tree thirty-feet in the air and had fun getting it down.”
He has three children and five grandchildren that are close to his heart, along with his wife of forty years, Janet, whom he calls his best friend and thanks for all the love and support that he has received.
Warkentin states that his hardest moment as a teacher has been seeing the difficulties students are faced with which they bring to class and they are expected to learn math. He expresses that he likes being able to connect with them and let them know that he cares.
Tim Warkentin will be retiring this year and will be greatly missed here at RHS. He has contributed to the positive climate at our school and to the community in countless ways through his cheerful attitude. RHS thanks him for all he has done!