Some consider teaching a profession, while others may consider it a passion.
But when it comes to Tampa Bay Storm quarterback Stephen Wasil, it’s both.
Being just his first year with the Storm as a new resident of Tampa Bay, Wasil is no stranger to learning. While he still considers himself a student of a game in which there is always room for improvement, he nonetheless maintains an approach to pass on his knowledge and skills to those around him, not just on the gridiron, but off of it as well.
“That’s something that, for me, started with playing athletics at a young age,” Wasil said. “My coaches were always very good at teaching the kids, so that’s when I saw that teaching can be very rewarding and it made me want to do that.”
Wasil, a graduate of Albion College who doubles as a school teacher during football’s offseason, perhaps carries a lot of pressure upon his shoulders, but of the positive variety. That’s because he is not only called upon to be a leader on the field, but in the classroom, too.
Upon earning his undergraduate degree from Albion, Wasil decided to continue his education by attending Western Michigan University to attain his professional teacher’s certification in both physical education and geography.
And just because he’s currently playing football, don’t think that the decision didn’t pay off.
Wasil has been working diligently to land a permanent teaching job, and although he has made significant strides in achieving that goal, his continued success in football has occupied the majority of his time.
“Right now, I’ve just been a substitute in the offseason,” Wasil said. “I love playing football, and teaching is also something I’ve always wanted to do, so I’m pretty fortunate to be able to do both.”
To accomplish doing just that, Wasil applied the concept of teamwork, which he attained on the field, and used it to network with others in order to ultimately get his foot in the door as a teacher.
While at Albion, one of the school’s assistant coaches also served as an assistant superintendent for Jackson public schools in Jackson County, Michigan. Furthermore, one of Wasil’s college teammates at Albion was a former student at Jackson High School, who also emerged as a key component in assisting Wasil with his endeavor.
As a result of the joint effort, Wasil will be heading to Jackson High come this offseason, to not only teach in the classroom, but on the football field as well.
“From what I’ve heard they’re overhauling their entire offensive playbook,” Wasil said. “So it’ll be a good opportunity for me to share what I’ve learned in football with them.”
That, perhaps, is exactly where Wasil’s background in teaching could prove most useful.
“Individuals learn in all different ways,” he added. “So that’s where I come in. I plan on just trying to find the ways in which each member of the team understands certain things so I can teach them the best as possible.”
Although this upcoming offseason will be Wasil’s first coaching at the high school level, he expects the experience to go off without a hitch, as being a former high school and collegiate athlete himself, presents a sense of familiarity and empathy with what athletes of that age group go through.
“It’s important to present information in a positive manner and in a way that they can understand,” Wasil said. “That’s something I learned from my own coaches teaching me the game and it’s something I can use and apply to teach these kids to help them.”
As for what takes place inside the classroom, that presents a whole new set of challenges.
According to Wasil, teaching inside the classroom as opposed to out on the football field tends to be a bit more tricky, as students often don’t like some of their classes, lack motivation or interest, and learn at a different pace than some of their classmates.
But just as the students both on and off the field learn from Wasil, the learning experience manifests itself in being a two-way street, in which Wasil also gains reciprocal knowledge from his subjects.
“I think I learn from them just as much as they learn from me, for sure,” Wasil said. “For as many years as I’ve played, there are always more opportunities to learn, to pick up on new techniques and master all the different scenarios that are presented to me on gameday.”
It’s safe to say, that in Wasil’s case, whether he’s giving instruction on how to read a Cover-2 defense or solve an algebra equation, taking the opportunity to both teach and learn is never an opportunity wasted.