Meet a Man Who's Inspiring Thousands of Kids to Embrace Healthy Living

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Sam Pisenti, known to his students as Coach Sam, is the beloved Physical Education teacher at Village and Whited Elementary schools in Northern California. He is also my Dad. Recently, NBC Bay Area News featured him in a segment called “A Force of Nurture” about how he’s inspired tens of thousands of students to live healthy and happy lives. When I was a teenager, my Dad decided to lose weight and get healthy, and 20 years later I see the affects in my family and in my community. I can’t think of anyone who epitomizes the values of SparkPeople—the power of one decision, one goal, one belief that the hard work is worth it--than my Dad, Coach Sam. 

Watch A Force of Nurture

Here are the top five lessons that I learned from my Dad and that I’ve committed to pass on to my own children. I hope that they inspire you and that you share yours also with me.
  • Start with one small goal. Over twenty years ago, Coach Sam set his first fitness goal: to walk the short, but steep, hill behind our property once per day. Now he rides several thousand miles each year on his bike. By setting small goals, you’re setting yourself up for success and creating springboards for bigger goals.
  • You are strong. You can do it. Last summer, my Dad entered my young son in a 35 mile organized ride called the King’s Ridge GranFondo. During a training ride, my son stopped half way up a steep hill and started crying. He wanted to give up. My Dad gently prodded him: “You are strong. Just pick a small goal: ride to that light post. You can do it.” He made it up that hill. During the GranFondo, at the top of the highest hill, my son turned and said “if I can do this, I can do anything!” Once you catch the can-do spirit, it will take you places you never thought possible.
  • Make it fun! My Dad’s taught me that fitness and fun go hand-in-hand, no matter where you are. I’ll never forget watching him and my brother take the stage at a wedding and turn the dance floor into a huge aerobics class. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a bride and groom having a ball, doing the grapevine across the floor with their guests.
  • When challenges come (and they will), make adjustments. Early on, my Dad discovered that he was really good at running. He was posting strong times in 10K races and then he injured his back. His running career was effectively over. It was because of that challenge, that he discovered how much he loves road cycling and he’s really good at it too. He also discovered swimming, hiking and mountain biking. If it wasn’t for challenges, he may not have discovered activities that have become part of his daily routine and that are now huge blessings to our whole family.
  • Do what you love. My Dad picked a career that he’s good at and that he loves, regardless of how well it pays or what other people think about it. We can’t walk around town without bumping into his current and former students, many of which now have their own kids, and some are now teachers themselves. Imagine how great this world would be if we all made that choice.
It is never too late to make healthy choices. When the going gets tough, remember that you will reap the rewards in yourself and in those you love.  As Coach Sam says, “Keep going. Never stop.”

What keeps your going towards your goals? What is your inspiration?

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He used to be my elementary school coach!! Report
Awesome!!! What a very inspirational man your Dad is to thousands on people. He has taught countless of people you can do anything if you set your mind to it. What an amazing human being he is. Be very proud of him. This is so exciting. God Bless You and Have a Wonderful Week. Way To Go!!!!!! Report
Awesome! How proud you must be of your dad! Report
Awesome! Congratulations to your dad, and thank you! Report
We have a florida lawmaker, Republican state Rep. Larry Metz, who has introduced a bill that would no longer require all Florida middle school students to take P.E. class every year. That's the way he wants to cut spending! I'm calling this jerk out! Report
What an awesome dad! Report
Thank you Samantha, for sharing such a great, and so very inspirational, article. Report
Thank-you for sharing. You & your dad are two very lucky people! Report
What an inspiring story!!! Report
You sound as inspiring as your Father! What a wonderful video - thanks for sharing. I share your Dad's passion for cycling, although I'm not ready to get up and ride before the sun comes up. Report
Triple love this story! Report
What a great video! Thanks for sharing your very special dad with all of us! Report
I do it for myself. Report
your dad sounds awesome - must be so fun with him!!
Congrats to him for being recognized for what he's doing! Report
Thank you for sharing that. I thank God for teachers that really care for the children they teach and your father sounds like that kind of teacher.

I'm learning to set smaller goals on my way to the bigger ones. It really helps to look at a few small molehills instead of one gigantic mountain! Report
Your dad is a very good Dad and coach and community leader. The blog made me cry because it makes me think about how much I miss my Dad. Thank you for bringing back so many cherished memories of a man that meant everything to me. Now that I think about it, I think he motivates me. When my knee was hurting so bad and I was on my walk waiting for the cortisone shot I felt someone say just to that trash barrel and then you have to go to your Dr. appointment. It could have been my Dad. He always told us not to quit what we start. Report
Your dad sounds like an amazing man, this was an inspiring story. Report
Love it! Inspiring...truly. Report
your dad is an amazing man. Sounds like he has produced some amazing offspring as well!! Report
Great blog! Congratulations to your Dad, and thanks to you for sharing!

We always need that reminder to set small attainable goals, and when we reach those, to set new goals. Report
This is so exciting. Report
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