By Karen Billing
Carmel Valley Middle School Physical Education (PE) teacher Jasmine Stiles took home eight shiny new medals at the 2013 Marriott U.S. Masters Swimming Summer Nationals in Mission Viejo, Aug. 7-11.
In the 45-49 age group, Stiles was fifth in the 200-meter breaststroke, seventh in 100 -meter breaststroke, eighth in the 50-meter freestyle, eighth in the 100-meter freestyle and was part of four relays that finished in the top five in the country.
Her multiple medal showing was just one way the PE teacher, who also serves as the San Dieguito Union High School District’s PE coordinator, sets an example of a healthy lifestyle for her students.
“I believe that in order to motivate the students they have to see you do it too. I don’t believe in just talking, I believe in living it,” Stiles said.
Stiles pulled out her impressive performance at Nationals despite an extremely painful back injury in March that sidelined her for months. She was only able to train for the meet for five weeks.
“I’ve never been so humbled in my entire life as when I was not able to move. There is such a thing as the arrogance of good health,” Stiles said. “If you can move, don’t take that for granted.”
Stiles has been at Carmel Valley Middle since 2000, prior to that she taught PE at San Dieguito and La Costa Canyon high schools. The philosophy of her PE department is to instill a lifelong love of fitness in students and encourage the confidence to take on challenges without fear, stressing how good it feels to accomplish something they weren’t so sure they could.
“She is driven, motivated, she’s fun. Kids always want to come back and see her,” said fellow PE teacher Kasey Galik. “She motivates me and I’m excited to learn from her.”
At Carmel Valley Middle School, Stiles will be motivating 1,500 students this year, including more than 800 seventh graders.
The kids are introduced to a variety of sports and practice yoga — Stiles is excited to unleash some new strength and conditioning exercises to help with stability and injury prevention this year.
Throughout the year students train for a 5K in May, two loops around the CVMS campus.
“That is an amazing achievement for 12 to 14 year olds,” Stiles said. “In the beginning of the school year when you tell them they’re going to be running more than one mile they think you’re crazy. Often times a student will see a challenge and if they’re not sure they’ll succeed they don’t even want to attempt it. But they continue to work and get stronger and it’s pretty neat to see the sense of accomplishment when they finish.”
An avid surfer, when not in the pool Stiles can often be found surfing at Pacific Beach
She additionally teaches a free fitness class to Carmel Valley Middle staff once a week.
Stiles never swam competitively until her sophomore year at Cleveland State University, where she ran track and cross-country. A running injury forced her into the pool to keep up her conditioning and the swim coach took notice of her natural ability in the water.