Utley Gets Kids Moving
Blake Utley is all about getting kids moving.
“Movement for kids leads to a better, healthier lifestyle and can result in higher test scores,” said Utley.
So he figures if technology is what it takes, he’s all in.
“That’s the hardest we’ve worked all year,” said Fort Dodge Senior High (FDSH) Sophomore Makenzie Kofoot after a May 23rd P.E. class.
This is just what Utley wants to hear.
Brand new Interactive Health Technology (IHT) wrist heart rate monitors just might be the reason Kofoot and her classmates were working so hard. The 105 watches added to the FDSH PE curriculum were made possible by a $13,000 grant from the Fort Dodge Community Schools Foundation.
Utley told the class their goal is to turn the watch red, or to a heart rate of 120 beats per minute. The heart rate monitors can be programmed to make it more or less challenging to hit that target color.
“They (the heart monitors) motivate students,” said Utley. “They also give us (teachers) concrete data on the effort students are putting forth in class.”
Students rotated among cardio and strength stations including battle ropes, kettle bell squats, jump rope and more.
“I think they are pretty cool. They are pretty accurate, they fit comfortably too,” said Junior Sayer Tracey as he did bicep curls with resistance bands.
When students finish the class they scan their watch and immediately see all kinds of data, such as how long they stayed in their target heart rate.
“See you got to the red, good job,” Utley tells one student.
That hard work might also be because the student who spent the most time in the red zone, was awarded a pass to sit out PE one day and watch the rest of his or her classmates sweat it out.
It’s sweating that drives Utley.
Since becoming an FDSH PE teacher in 2007, he’s added a Half Marathon class. Students train for a semester in the mornings before school and receive PE credit. The final is running a half marathon or 13.1 miles. Classes have run the Chicago Spring Half Marathon, the St. Louis Half Marathon, the Des Moines Half Marathon and the Dam to Dam race in Des Moines. Utley estimates 175 student have completed a half marathon, he says many students took the class twice.
Utley is also a varsity baseball coach. He spent 9 years as an assistant then took the head spot in 2004.
It was a moment between a Dodger and his mentor that motivated him to become a coach.
As a high school football player he witnessed a former player coming back to see legendary FDSH football
coach Sam Moser. He watched the interaction and sensed the lifelong bond that can sometimes form between a player and a coach, he says it was at that moment he knew he wanted to be that mentor, not to just any student athletes, but to Dodgers.
“I love the community and the types of people we raise in our community,” said Utley. “I can still remember how excited I was when I got my first key to Dodger Stadium. I had full access to the best stadium in the state.”
Utley was an all-state and all-conference football player, an all-conference baseball player and a state qualifier in track. He was 2001 Bernie Saggua Award winner and a member of the National Honor Society. His wife, Lacey (Thoma) Utley is also a Dodger alumni. They have two kids; Emmalyn, 4 and Knox, 2.