“Just watch someone who knows what they are doing.”
The sage advice comes from Sam Fant as the music cranks up for Tuesday’s free community Zumba class in the August Knodt School cafeteria.
In seconds, the former Trojan quarterback is doing moves with his hips that would have his former football coaches at Lincoln High of Stockton shaking their heads.
But it doesn’t bother Fant. He knows better.
Fant, who will lift weights occasionally with the Weston Ranch High football team and play hoops when he’s not taking one of the 9 a.m. Zumba and/or aerobics classes, offers the opinion that most football players would have a tough time keeping up with the ladies in class.
He’s not joking. Years ago Mesa Verde High’s football staff in Citrus Heights — irked because they had a number of players in summer conditioning that thought they were in great shape — brought in the girlfriend on an assistant coach who happened to teach Jazzercise. Most of the team members thought it was a big joke including their hot shot running backs, wide receivers, and quarterbacks. No one was laughing 10 minutes later as almost every player was winded and sweating bullets trying to keep up with the woman instructor. By the time it was over, the players were begging to have Jazzercise as part of their endurance conditioning to whip them into shape for football.
To say Fant is your typical Manteca Unified School District board member or even your typical politician is a slight understatement.
He sees things a bit differently.
The free Zumba class is one example.
He believes schools should become even greater community hubs to secure even bigger buy-ins from students, parents, and the community in general.
It makes no sense for Fant for taxpayers to be hit with the cost of a community center for Weston Ranch — or even in Lathrop and Manteca — when there are schools that can be utilized when facilities aren’t being used by students.
“They (the taxpayers) are already paying for the schools,” Fant noted.
Building a community center per se would be redundant — and not to mention expensive and a tad bit of overkill.
Fant said he’ll go to bat for any parent that wants to start a similar exercise program as is now in place at August Knodt School at any Manteca Unified campus that has the facilities and scheduling to accommodate it.
Getting efficient use out of tax dollars is something that Fant wants to see through joint partnerships with other government agencies whenever possible.
An example is swimming pools.
After a successful trial run this summer of opening the Weston Ranch High pool to the community the MUSD board is pondering repeating it at other campuses.
Fant said that doesn’t mean cities such as Stockton, Lathrop, and Manteca would get a free ride on the school district’s back. Instead he sees cities sharing costs and covering the cost of manpower for operating a specific program such as swimming.
Imagine what would happen in Manteca if such an approach were fully deployed.
A well paid consultant determined Manteca is short a swimming pool and that it is high on the public’s wish list since Lincoln Pool is small and not exactly easy to access for kids in much of the community.
A swimming pool complex could set the city back at least a cool $3 million and that is before factoring in annual operating and maintenance costs.
The consultant, for want of better words, is a hack. He has blinders on. That’s because government in 2015 is too often abut empire building or at least functioning independently of other agencies.
Manteca doesn’t have a swimming pool shortage. There are three swimming pools located at Manteca High, Sierra High, and East Union High that can serve as public swim locations during the summer and be accessible to many more youth and families alike. The best part is when the city would use them for summer open pool times is when school is not in session.
The City of Manteca doesn’t need to build a $3 million swimming pool. They simply have to work with the school district.
Meanwhile, Fant has made another discovery.
“You’re in pretty good shape for a 59-year-old,” he tells me as I kick up a leg while completely befuddled by the Zumba moves.
It’s not exactly my forte having started out with the less dance intense Jazzercise classes years ago and eventually making my way into step, body sculpting, and RIPPED classes.
Still, I kind of amaze myself on how much I can catch on to doing.
It fits right in with the point Fant is trying to make. Trying different approaches to exercise can open up new possibilities just as trying different approaching to interacting with the community.
Say what you want about Fant but he definitely has moves that other MUSD board members don’t have.
If you doubt that, check out Fant at the next Zumba class at August Knodt School.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com