Any environment where sports and athletics abound is just right for Stevi Balsamo.
That’s what makes her new job as Millennium High’s athletic director ideal for the 31-year-old Tracy native and West High graduate.
“I was the one, if I wasn’t playing a sport, my mom took me to every single football game, home and away, and every single basketball game, home and away, whether it was Oakdale or Sonora, wherever we were playing in the VOL (Valley Oak League),” she said. “I loved being at the games, and that hasn’t changed.”
Balsamo attended Jacobson Elementary School and Monte Vista Middle School before going to West High, where she played soccer and basketball. After graduation in 2001, she went on to California State University, Sacramento, to major in physical education and earn credentials in teaching and administration.
While at Sacramento State, she pictured herself as someone who could inspire young people to get into athletics.
“It’s something I had thought about,” she said. “When I went to get my administrative credential, I knew I would use it in athletics.”
She came back to Tracy right after graduating in 2007 and has taught physical education at Discovery Charter School, the middle school component of Tracy Learning Center, since 2008.
Balsamo is taking over leadership of an established athletic program, but she has immersed herself in Millennium athletics ever since she arrived. Her first year on the job was the first year the Falcons had a football team, and she’s watched Millennium’s programs grow championship teams.
She is already a regular at all of the games, whether she’s working the scoreboard, keeping statistics or staffing the gate. More recently, she has been an assistant to former athletic director Jayson Dias, who has taken a job as Mountain House High School’s physical education department chair. Dias is staying on as Millennium High’s football coach.
Balsamo figures all schools need athletic programs as part of the campus culture. The experience is intensified at Millennium High, because there is a smaller student body, about 500 students, and more multiple-sport athletes.
“Bringing in the athletics program that Jayson started, it gives the students a sense of pride for the school and increases the spirit,” she said. “It gives them something additional to be a part of.”
“I would like to see the program continue to grow,” she added, “especially our younger students who are coming up, I want them to want to stay even more than those that already do, because we already have a high percentage that stay.”
Balsamo said that her job as a physical education teacher is to get kids inspired about athletics. She strives to get her students involved with extracurricular athletic events, including the Tracy Dry Bean Festival Bean Run in past years. Millennium’s sports program gives her students something else to aim for.
“(I want) to get them more passionate about it and really come up and say, ‘I want to be a Falcon. I want to be part of this program,’ whether it’s athletics or anything else within the high school, to really boost that school culture.”
Contact Bob Brownne at firstname.lastname@example.org or 830-4227.