Olivia Gonzalez Talks Former Student Days – and Current Teaching Duties – at Tipton High School
Writer & Photographer / Natalie Platt
Olivia Gonzalez truly embodied the term ‘student-athlete’ while at Tipton High School, and then some. The 2016 Tipton graduate was part of National Honor Society, student council, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and also topped off her high school career by graduating top 10 in her class.
Athletically, Gonzalez was on the varsity basketball and softball team, both of which saw success. She was part of the 2014 sectional and regional championship team in basketball, and part of the conference title team in softball. She also received an all-conference award two years in a row, and, perhaps most important, the mental attitude award.
After graduating from Tipton, Gonzalez attended Taylor University where she played softball and majored in biology with a concentration in pre-medicine.
“The biggest part of being a student-athlete in college was knowing when to buckle down and stay focused, and when to let loose and relax,” Gonzalez says. “Fortunately and unfortunately, I was one of the two pre-med majors on the softball team, so there were several times that I had to remind myself of my goals and to stay focused.”
Gonzalez remembers bus rides full of euchre and karaoke on the way home from games while she and her teammate, the other pre-med major, were hitting the books. She admits that being disciplined in her studies and athletics was the hardest part of coming to college.
“It was such a challenge, but I knew I could easily overcome it because of the opportunities and experience I had while at Tipton High School,” she says. “I learned what time management and discipline looked like from an early age.”
Gonzalez recommends going to a smaller school for the resources, clubs and activities available, many providing support while juggling studies and athletics. She credits being so involved in high school for her success in college.
Now she is in her first year teaching integrated chemistry and physics, honor physics, and Earth and space science, back where it all began – at Tipton High School – and acknowledges former teachers for her return.
“Nick Comer was single-handedly the biggest influence on me in high school, and not just with athletics,” she says. “He did everything in his power to make sure that his players were not only excelling on the court, but excelling in life. He taught me the very definition of hard work, reliability, and made a huge impact on my faith as well. He was there for us as players through every high and every low.”
For Gonzalez, returning home has meant staying close to her family as well as her husband’s.
“Returning to Tipton has meant everything to my husband and I,” Gonzalez says. “We are both from Tipton, so being back home has been really fun for both of us. The community of Tipton is truly something special, and you don’t fully realize it until you’re in it. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else but here.”
Gonzalez is most proud of her students. What stands out most to her are the kids who are willing to help each other, no matter who is asking, and she credits a great first year of teaching to that uplifting positivity. She’s also proud of the relationships she’s been able to build with her students and players.
“Teaching has been the greatest joy thus far,” she says. “I care so deeply for my students and my softball players. They are my ‘why’ every single day when it comes to teaching/coaching. Seeing them grow as individuals throughout the year has been so heartwarming and encouraging.”