Lee Central High School coach and teacher George Wallace said the United States Sports Academy’s flexible scheduling and option to continue working in the sports field while learning benefited his family and career.

Wallace earned his Master of Sports Science degree in sports management from the Academy in 2000. He teaches adaptive physical education to students with special needs at Lee Central in Bishopville, S.C. Like many other Academy graduates, Wallace was able to work as an educator and coach while earning his degree.

“I have been appreciative through the years for the Academy and the opportunity it afforded me,” Wallace said. “The opportunity to advance my education without having to alter or stop my job and family responsibilities was very important to me then and would be very important to me now.

“I was interested in studying at the Academy because of the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in a field that I was interested in and already working in, sports and athletics. I had looked into other programs but had not found a course of study that interested me. Second, the Academy program fit into my work, coaching and family schedule. I was married with two young daughters and coaching multiple sports and working summers, so the Academy allowed me to continue with this schedule and pursue an advanced degree.”

As the adaptive physical education teacher at Lee Central, Wallace works daily with the school’s special needs department, which consists of students with the most severe mental and physical limitations in the school district. For 45 minutes each day, Wallace leads the students in a workout that is catered to each student’s physical abilities. For some, that means standing or jumping, while others may participate in bowling, basketball, kickball, balloon volleyball and Nintendo Wii games.

“The inspiration to work with these students was simply the opportunity to provide them with a beneficial service and outlet that they were not receiving prior to the establishment of this program,” Wallace said. “The students themselves provide inspiration to me daily as I receive more from them than I could ever give in return.”

Wallace also teaches driver’s education and handles all game-day readiness procedures for the school’s outdoor athletic facilities and sports like football, baseball, softball, and track and field.

“I like the uniqueness of what I do in that no one else has these responsibilities at our school,” Wallace said. “I started teaching and coaching in 1990 and I have coached volleyball, basketball, football, and golf in my career. I have had the opportunity to coach in three state championship games covering two different sports, highlighted with a baseball state championship in 1993. I have also umpired and refereed baseball, softball, and football at the younger youth levels in our county. I have also handled and shared athletic field maintenance responsibilities during my career.”