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Vickers Elementary student awarded chance to be coach for day

By JR Ortega
March 8, 2012 at 5:03 p.m.
Updated March 8, 2012 at 9:09 p.m.

Kooper Wilkerson leads a parade of kindergarten students jogging around the gym floor. Kooper, a kindergarten student at Vickers Elementary School, got to serve as the PE teacher for the day on Monday after he raised the most money for Jump Rope for Heart, a program that increases awareness among students about heart health.

Coach Kooper Wilkerson jogs around the Vickers Elementary School gymnasium, leading a parade of about 50 kindergartners into their morning PE exercises.

The funny and somewhat awkward thing is that those students are his classmates.

But on Monday, he was their coach.

Kooper won the chance to be PE coach for the day when he raised the most money for Jump Rope for Heart, a national fundraising program sponsored jointly by the American Heart Association and the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Kooper raised $320 of the school's $2,700.

"It helps people with the holes in their hearts," said Kooper, who had matted, sweaty hair after teaching his first class.

Family and friends helped him raise the money, he said.

Kooper had not stopped thinking about being the coach for the day when he found out he won several weeks ago.

"It's all we've heard about at home," said his mother Krista Wilkerson, who also teaches elementary school at Vickers.

Kooper woke up Monday ready to go.

Donned in a slightly oversized T-shirt and Nike windpants, Kooper completed the look with a shiny, silver whistle.

Even at 5-years-old, Kooper understands how teaching a class works.

Do his classmates pay attention to him?

"No," Kooper quickly retorted.

For him, the solution is simple.

"If I blow my whistle, they'll pay attention to me," he said with a cheeky smile.

As the friction of Kooper's windpants sounded noisily through the hallway, he exited the main building and entered a gym crowded with energetic, rowdy elementary students.

Kooper waited for this class to leave so he could teach the next class.

Tammy Edgerton, the assistant coach, said incentives like being coach for a day really teaches the kids the importance of peer-student learning.

Being rewarded for competitions like Jump Rope for Heart also helps then grow in the future.

"I think he'll try to collect and raise more money for other organizations," she said.

Already, Kooper has aspirations of becoming a vet one day. He's also heavily involved in baseball and karate, two activities he knows keeps his heart healthy.

As Kooper took center stage in the gym, he raised the whistle to his mouth and gave a mighty blow.

The shrill noise echoed in the gym and kids began running around the gym for their morning workout.

Shortly after, he directed them to play his favorite game, sit-down volleyball.

Kids punched the air-filled balls back and forth, all the while screaming.

When asked what was Kooper's favorite part of the being a coach, the answer was simple.

"All of it," he said.



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