Physical training to physical science

Previous football coach retires, changes from teaching weights class to physical science class

Story by Heather Mowdy and Kayleigh Keller

Last year, Head Football Coach Tom Nickelson retired from coaching, but chose to stay at Pittsburg High School as a science teacher.     

“[Science] is what I went to college for,” Nickelson said. “I did this the first 16 years I taught. It’s nice to get back.”

While coaching football, Nickelson was also a weights and conditioning coach at the school. He went back to teaching science after his retirement for a few reasons. 

“When you are in the weight room, you need to be a coach,” Nickelson said. “I loved the coaching part, but people that are in there now need to be in there with their kids making sure they are getting stronger and faster.”

According to Nickelson, neither subject is better than the other, even though they have their differences. 

“You are exhausted at the end of the day with both [classes],” Nickelson said. “However, science is more mental and the weight room is more physical. I did spend four years in college learning how to [teach science], so this one comes a little more naturally.”    

One major adjustment that Nickelson has had to make involves state assessments. 

“We have very specific state criteria and benchmarks that we have to hit,” Nickelson said. “Making sure we hit them all is an adjustment.”

Even with all these adjustments, one thing stays the same: the kids. 

“If they don’t think that you don’t care about them, then they are not going to give you their best efforts,” Nickelson said. “Forming bonds and just trying to get the best out of them no matter what you are teaching is what is important.”