Christopher Peralta stands in front of his class, simply gazing around the room. His eyes meet several students, those of which he’ll be seeing after school. However, these students aren’t in trouble. In fact, quite the opposite. Peralta coaches the award-winning Lake Ridge High School Tennis Team, who after a long day of school meet at the tennis court, tirelessly perfecting their technique .
Peralta’s first team wasn’t a large team and certainly not the best. However, Peralta saw potential in the group. He himself was new to coaching, and he felt that if he could get this tennis program on it’s feet, that he would grow himself and his team. At the first game of his career, he realized that not only his team needed improvement, but himself as well. He says he felt confused and scared; he didn’t know what he was doing.
“When I first started coaching Tennis, I actually started coaching in Austin, Texas. The program was very small, and it was kind of disorganized. It wasn’t a program that had seen a lot of success. I was kind of nervous and unsure of myself during my first game. I don’t think I had a good understanding of what I should be doing as a coach, and it took me a few years to figure things out. The first couple of years, it didn’t turn around very quickly. It took us a while to get things rolling and to get it up and running. Eventually, I would say maybe the first year at that school, we started doing pretty well. ” said Peralta.
Now, nearly ten years after he felt anxiety and disorientation as a new coach, he is the proud leader of an award-winning tennis team at Lake Ridge High School. This season alone, the team made it to regional semi-finals, which alone is a major accomplishment.
“This is a really successful year for the tennis program here, our most successful year, in fact. As a team we made it to regional semi-finals in team tennis which is a great accomplishment. We also have the district girls MVP, Kennedy Cook, and we have a lot of guys and girls make 1st and 2nd team All-District, so overall it was a really successful season,” said Peralta.
Not only has his team been recognized for it’s hard work and strength, but Peralta himself has been named District Coach of the Year. The honor was huge because it is voted on my multiple coaches around the district for who amongst them has shown the most perseverance, determination, and skill.
“Being named Coach of the Year is something that I’m really proud of, and it was something that was voted on by the other district coaches, and to be honest, even though I’m really proud, I attribute it not only to myself but it was really a reflection of the kids that we coached. Without those kids being such hard workers and being so successful and talented, there’s no way I would even be considered for that sort of award. A lot of the credit also goes to my assistant coach, because without their help, we wouldn’t be nearly as good and I certainly wouldn’t be the coach that I am,” said Peralta.
Beyond his talent as an inspiring coach to the members of the tennis team, Peralta also teaches AP English Literature, an advanced course focusing on the intricacies of the English language in older and newer pieces of literature. Although he certainly shows efficiency in this, the coach ironically wanted to be a History teacher. The lack of job openings, however, put him in the position to accept a job as an English teacher.
“When I first started teaching I didn’t intend to teach English, I actually wanted to teach Social Studies. When I was in college I got my degree in English Literature and Political Science, and when I decided to go into teaching, it was really my intent to go into Social Studies. I couldn’t find a job, though, but I was able to find a job as a Literature teacher. So, English is something that I enjoy and that I studied in college, and I just kind of fell in love with the idea of teaching English,” said Peralta.
Even though this is Peralta’s first year teaching AP Literature independently, he says that he is proud of the dedication of his students and their abilities to follow lessons. He also claims the discussions they have in his class are not only fascinating but mature, and that the students seem to fit in with the course and enjoy the topics.
“I would say that, since this is my first year of teaching AP Literature on my own, I feel like one of the things that I’m the most proud of is that we are really sharp in terms of our instruction. We’ve been very in depth in our study of Hamlet, and I feel like the course is very rigorous and challenging, yet it’s fair. I would say that we’re definitely on the right path to be recognized for several accomplishments after we take the AP test,” said Peralta.
The pressure of teaching two very different topics, that of Tennis and of Advanced Placement Literature, would certainly overwhelm those who would not have a strong work ethic and a true passion for both fields of study. Peralta can attest to this and explains how he deals with his full plate.
“Being a Coach and a Teacher is very difficult. I think one of the things I do to manage that is that I try to be extremely organized and to have a clear idea of what I want to do on the tennis court and my tournaments, and I try to make it work with what I want to accomplish in the classroom. It is difficult and it is challenging, and it requires a lot of work over the weekends, but the main thing for me is making sure that I’m 100% organized in terms of when I can schedule my instructional things and when I schedule my practices, so I’d definitely recommend organization for anyone who is struggling with too many tasks,” said Peralta.