Slumped down in a seat away from the sparse Coliseum crowd, hat tugged down over her thick blonde hair, Stacy Heaton tried to concentrate on the 18th Century English play propped up against her knees. It was a losing battle.
Every time the University crowd cheered the Titans basketball team, Heaton glanced up to see what her cheerleaders were doing.
Besides that, she was looking ahead to the regional gymnastics meet, where her Titans would try to defend their championship and advance to state.
And, when her mind wandered away from those responsibilities, she thought about her husband Ryan fixing dinner for their boys, Garrett, soon to be 12, and Gavin, 10, who would have to go to bed without a good-night kiss.
English literature never had a chance.
It’s a wonder the University gymnastics coach and cheerleader advisor, full-time English major at Eastern Washington University and mother maintains her sanity.
“I think I’ve lost it a few times, I’m sure,” she said with an infectious laugh. “I have wonderful support from my husband, my team is really enjoyable. The only real pain is school. I think the other two get me through.”
But even her professors at EWU are a big help. Heaton will miss several classes this week as the Titans go to the state gymnastics meet in Tacoma.
“I’ve worked it out with my teachers,” said the student with the 3.85 GPA. “One thing they have to understand is that I’m going into the teaching profession and this is my foot in the door. It would be silly of me to give it up. They understand.”
Stacy Bolyard, U-Hi Class of ‘80, was the first Titans gymnast to qualify for state three years in a row. Heaton now has three gymnasts, Rachelle Quinn, Amie Tonani and Amber Hulbert, going for the fourth time.
Ten years ago, when the Heatons returned to Spokane after a year in Seattle, Stacy filled her time coaching gymnastics at her old junior high (Bowdish), high school and clubs, as well as junior high track. She gave up track and junior high gymnastics but added cheerleader advisor about six years ago. Becoming a teacher was an obvious move.
“I think part of it is my experience at U-Hi, it’s kind of a natural step to go into teaching,” she said. “One day, I’m going to be too old to spot gymnastics. And, my two boys are going to need to be put through college. I enjoy being with kids.”
Even if they aren’t always her own.
“I feel like my family life gets short-changed,” Heaton fretted. “Especially through this high school season. I worry about that a lot. I feel extremely guilty. My husband is taking the kids to everything. That’s why I say I have a lot of support at home. My children really understand and my husband helps out.
“It’s been interesting, my kids and I are going to school together. My kids help me with my homework sometimes and I help them with theirs.”
Not to worry, according to Ryan.
“It’s tough to follow her schedule. She has so many things going on,” he said. “But she does spend a lot of time with the guys. She’s a perfect mom.”
Perfect is the operative word.
“Stacy’s a perfectionist,” Ryan said. “She’s not the type to set a book down even if she thinks she might be ready… . She pushes the girls to be perfect, as best as they can be.”
“She puts so much time into us,” GSL all-around champion Kim Meyers said. “She loves us all. She puts all of her energy into this. I wouldn’t have done it (reached high level) without her. She’s done so much for me this year. She makes you go after your goals. And she’s never the type to put you down.”
Heaton thinks her team can improve on its seventh-place finish, just like she’ll try to improve a term paper by rewriting it three times.
“I think it’s harder for me to relax and not study then it is for me to go ahead and prepare. It lessens my stress,” she said. “I have to admit I’m winding down to the end of the season. I could probably use a little bit of a break, although I’m going to miss these kids. Unfortunately, I have to say goodbye to six seniors at the end of the season. I’m going to miss these kids.”
The same couldn’t be said about English Lit.