United States Sport Academy master’s degree alumna Dr. Linda Hilgenbrinck has spent almost her entire career helping young people with adapted needs through physical education, working at every level of education for more than 30 years.

The 2012 National Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year, Hilgenbrinck earned her Master of Sports Science degree in sports fitness and health management from the Academy in 1984 and holds a Ph.D. in adapted physical education from Texas Women’s University. She works as an Adapted Physical Education Specialist within the Denton (Texas) Independent School District (ISD), serving students with adapted needs in eight schools and at every age level from kindergarten through high school.

“Even though I earned my master’s degree a while ago, I still use the things I learned from the Academy in my day-to-day work on a regular basis,” Hilgenbrinck said. “When I assess students who are in secondary school, I use the assessment skills I learned from the Academy. I perform body mass index (BMI) testing, something I learned from the Academy. We are also looking at expanding our adapted physical education program to include fitness facility upgrades, and of course facility management is something the Academy teaches. I’m very appreciative and thankful to have my Academy degree.”

Hilgenbrinck has worked in the Denton ISD for the last 15 years. The ISD counts nearly 30,000 enrolled students across multiple campuses in the 180-square mile district.

“I have the privilege to work directly, hands-on, with the students (with disabilities) on my caseload,” she said. “I take pride in the relationships I have developed with my students and their parents. I love the reactions of my students when they perform a physical gross motor skill that they couldn’t previously perform. I love the fun I get to have when engaging my students. I love some of the stories my students tell me. Many of those stories are sad, surprising, endearing, and some just hilarious.”

Hilgenbrinck has served on several committees through Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance (TAHPERD) and was named the organization’s Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year in 2011. She was the TAHPERD Southern District Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year in 2012, the same year she was named the National Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year by SHAPE America. She was also recognized with Texas Women’s University’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015.