Your SAI CatchLife Team
Rick Schupbach, SAI CatchLife director and team leader
Rick Schupbach has been one of the most inspirational and influential voices in Iowa and across the nation for the last three decades when it comes to education on physical activity, health, and wellness. For much of his career, he was a teacher and coach at Grundy Center, where he earned state and national acclaim for his vision and implementation of key initiatives such as directing America’s first Elementary PE4life Academy. He has presented featured lessons at the National PE Day in Washington, D.C., provided testimony on Prevention and Wellness Initiatives before the Federal Senate Committee on Appropriations, and was a featured presenter multiple times at the National PE Conference. Rick was also one of six physical education teachers from across the nation to be featured in a video to help train college students titled “Exemplary Teachers in Action” and was the lead teaching practitioner at the 2010 Global Forum for Physical Education Pedagogy Conference.
Across the state, he was instrumental in establishing a distinctive Teaching with Technology master’s program in conjunction with UNI in which graduate students from all over the country came to Grundy Center and learned and taught in a totally immersed physical education program. He has been honored by his peers as the Iowa Elementary PE Teacher of the Year, has been inducted into the UNI Hall of Excellence, is a recipient of the John F. Sanford Award through the Iowa Medical Society, was the Masonic Lodge’s Iowa Teacher of the Year in 2015, and was recently honored by Mason City Schools as a Distinguished Alumnus.
His excellence in education extended into the coaching realm, where his golf teams won 14 state titles in 21 state appearances. In 2007 he was a finalist for National Coach of the Year and in 2015 he was named the Des Moines Register State Coach of the Year for all sports, as well as receiving the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Golden Plaque of Distinction Award. Also in 2015 Rick was named to the Executive Board of the Iowa Youth Sports Initiative, a new state organization which, working with coaches, parents, student athletes, and leaders, is seeking to develop “Better Athletes, Better People.”
Rick is the ideal person to lead this SAI initiative, designed to call attention to and help improve the overall physical, emotional, social, and mental health and wellness of those school administrators who choose to participate. He says it best when asked about his own personal philosophy, “Life is about relationships and if we can invest in and build healthy, positive relationships, life will become richer and more rewarding and fulfilling. To become whole as a person, we must be a part of something bigger than ourselves.”
John Stevens, SAI CatchLife Committee chair and team leader
John Stevens spent 34 years as an Iowa educator, with 24 of those years as a school administrator. He met Rick when he came to Grundy Center as the elementary principal in 1999 and the two of them working together began envisioning how the overwhelming success of the physical education program in the school could begin to influence the Grundy Center community as a whole. John’s opportunity to influence became even greater when in 2003 he was chosen to be Grundy Center’s superintendent of schools, a position he held until his retirement from public service in 2010.
As a superintendent, he helped create a fitness facility at the high school through a unique partnership with the YMCA, providing students free memberships and reducing rates for staff. Before it was mandated to do so, he created the district’s Wellness Committee and was one of the first administrators in Iowa to remove pop and unhealthy snack vending machines from the school. Working with his school lunch staff and a newly formed nutrition team, he succeeded in revamping the entire school lunch program, providing healthy meals to students many years before this became an emphasis of the federal government.
On the Iowa stage, he worked with Rick and UNI to bring the dream of a “Teaching with Technology” master’s program embedded in an Iowa school to reality, creating a model for delivery of cutting edge best practices for integrating technology into physical education. John has presented at numerous events and conferences throughout the state on the important role school leaders play in the health of students and staff. In 2010 he was honored by Iowa’s governor as the Healthy Iowa Visionary Award recipient. 2010-2014 Mr. Stevens served as the Outreach Coordinator for Live Healthy Iowa and helped over 80 Iowa Counties develop wellness coalitions. Nationally, John has been a guest speaker at the National P.E. Day in Washington, D.C., served as a panelist for a national health briefing sponsored by the Commission to Build a Healthier America, and helped Grundy Center host the Global Forum for Physical Education Pedagogy in His administrative experience, combined with his passion for the improvement of health and wellness for his colleagues and those they serve, is a tremendous asset to this SAI initiative.