Sharon Christensen knew she was destined to become a Physical Education (P.E.) teacher when, as a junior high student herself, she taught the seventh and eighth grade P.E. classes. The regular P.E. teacher had to take an extended leave of absence, so the principal asked Christensen if she would fill in instead of attending her own ninth grade classes. Needless to say, she agreed.
“I just think it’s important to promote a healthy lifestyle,” Christensen said. “I hope something kids will realize is it’s really not all about the sports. It’s about fitness and having a healthy lifestyle, and it’s about wellness and adopting that as your lifestyle.”
However, after approximately three decades at NS, Christensen plans to retire and move to St. George at the end of the school year.
Christensen grew up in North Ogden as part of a family passionate about sports. She attended Weber High School where she was heavily involved in athletics. Throughout high school Christensen was affectionately known as “The Bash”, taken from her maiden name of Bashford, because of her ability to jump a seemingly four feet in the air and spike a volleyball down her opponents’ throats.
Christensen continued to be a three-sport athlete at Snow College, playing volleyball, basketball, and softball. Christensen’s plans for attending Weber State University on a softball scholarship changed when the softball program was cancelled, so she accepted the invitation to play volleyball for Weber State instead.
After graduating from Weber State, Christensen coached volleyball as the assistant coach for one year at Weber High before moving to NS, where she was the head volleyball coach for twenty-one years. Coming from a state championship winning high school with the number one program in the state to a school with one of the worst programs in the state was a big change for Christensen. She immediately saw a big difference in how little the kids knew and their lack of exposure to the sport and worked to change that.
“I don’t feel that [difference] now, I really don’t,” Christensen said. “Plus we offer everything that a big school offers. Coming from a big school you were basically part of one thing, and that’s not the way it is here.”
Kali Blackham, who played volleyball while in high school and coached for Christensen after graduation, has always considered Christensen her mentor.
“She’s a great teacher. She’s a great example and she’s someone that I just look up to,” Blackham said. “She was always there and willing to help me if I had any questions or any problems.”
Twenty-eight years ago, Christensen also started the softball program at NS, coached it for seven consecutive years and is heading the program again this year. As the head basketball coach for nine years, track coach for two, golf coach for five, and the athletic director for the past fifteen years, Christensen has certainly had the ability to influence hundreds of student-athletes.
“When you’re working with the kids, you’re working at becoming skilled at that sport, and you’re focusing on learning to win and learning to form your skills to the best of your ability,” Christensen said. “But the real things you take away are life lessons that help you be dedicated, that help you learn that you can do hard things. You learn discipline, you’re employable, and they’re skills kids can use the rest of their lives.”
Cheryl Hadley, who has worked with Christensen for twenty-four years, has developed a close relationship with her. So close, in fact, that for years the two have been able to convince students that they are sisters.
“We kind of are close like sisters,” Christensen said. “I am the big sister.”
Even though they didn’t know it at the time, for years Hadley followed Christensen from school to school just a few years behind. First, Christensen went to Snow College, and so did Hadley. Then Christensen headed to Weber State, as did Hadley. Christensen completed her student teaching at Weber High, and Hadley did too. The two met when they both came to NS, but the pattern doesn’t end there. Christensen was head basketball coach, and Hadley became head coach after she stepped down. Christensen is the current athletic director, and Hadley will take over next year.
Hadley believes Christensen has had a positive impact on all she’s taught and coached.
“She has a passion for doing what is best for students and doing all she can to help students-athletes have a good, positive experience at North Sanpete,” Hadley said.
With all that she has experienced, Christensen feels sure she’s grown the most, from learning how to get things done, working with all types of people, and motivating kids. She also hopes she’s been able to leave a positive impact on NS.
“I’ve always strived to make things better at North Sanpete,” Christensen said. “I hope that I’ve done that, that I’ve made things better overall so that North Sanpete realizes that they are just as good as anyone else. Kids will continue to do well and achieve here.”
Although she may not miss the work involved with upkeep of the fields or the various buildings, Christensen will miss the many friendships she’s created over the years. It’s certain her absence will be noticed at NS as well.