Students of Valparaiso High School have had coach and teacher Tracy Corneil as a force of constant support for over two decades now. With 25 years of experience as a teacher and 16 as a coach, many students who have passed through VHS over the years have had an experience with Corneil that has shaped them.
The multiple hats that Corneil wears during her day mean that she has to be extra prepared for whatever it takes to succeed, which is a task she’s more than equipped for.
“It’s the balance of teaching math along with my coaching duties,” says Corneil. “I have to be prepared and that means planning ahead and knowing what I’m going to face head-on before I come to it.”
Corneil’s days start in the classroom where she puts the same level of hard work as she does on the softball field.
“I always tell my students, just because I’m a coach doesn’t mean it’s going to affect anything in the classroom,” explained Corneil. “Papers always come back on time and I get creative with any help I need to make sure my students have all the help they need."
After school though, it’s off to the field where Corneil is currently prepping for her upcoming softball season.
“After school, I’m off to the locker room to get the girls ready for practice or a game, which in this crazy spring has meant a lot of practice time,” joked Corneil.
All the time she spends with the students, be it in the classroom or the field, is Corneil’s favorite part of her work.
“I just enjoy the kids in general, I really like watching them grow up to become fine young ladies. It’s also nice when they come back and tell me all the neat little things going on in their lives.”
Perhaps the reason for so many of her students returning is the fact that Corneil puts so much emphasis on what they will gain outside of the classroom when they work with her.
“I want them to not only be good athletes and students but also contributing members of our community. And to be good people, it’s one thing to be an exceptional athlete, but it’s another to be a good person and make good choices.”
In her time off from coaching and teaching, this lifelong Region resident enjoys spending time with those closest to her.
“I don’t always have a lot of time off, but when I do I enjoy spending time with my family. I have two daughters, one is a sophomore at Valpo and the other is a seventh grader, and, of course, my husband of almost 19 years is a big part of my life. Any time I can take both my hats off and enjoy my surroundings, I embrace it.”
No matter what hat she might be wearing, Corneil is always focused on making the best of every situation for her students, and to give them the tools they need to become successful in and out of school.
For updates on the upcoming Valparaiso softball season, check out the school's website.