Ranier Rackley is known at Leesville as many things: most commonly as an assistant coach for the football team, special needs program teacher, and an indoor track and field sprint coach. Already during his first year teaching at Leesville, Rackley has been extremely involved in the Leesville community.
Rackley grew up in Florida and was involved in sports since day one. He started running track when he was seven years old and then at age eight, he started playing football. From the beginning, he fell in love with both sports and had dreams of playing professional football. After participating in both sports through college, Rackley had the opportunity to play professional sports.
It was during his years playing professional sports that Rackley spent time working with kids that had special needs. His passion for the kids flourished from there and only continued to grow with his experience teaching at Leesville.
He joined the school community as a special programs teacher during the fall of 2017, just a few short months ago. While he never imagined that he would work with kids that had disabilities, he embraces each day and does what he can to make his student’s day better.
Rackley said, “For me, being here to give a kid the type of attention or love they never had or sometimes don’t even get at home is amazing to me because I feel like I can make an [impact] in their lives, whether they understand me or don’t understand me, I feel like I’m doing something that’s influential to them.”
Even though Rackley enjoys his job very much, he explained that the challenges arise when a students may be having a bad day, especially if he accidently disrupts their schedule or everyday plans. “You come in not knowing what’s going to happen but you always have to come in with a positive mind-set like: today’s going to be a good day, encourage the kids, tell them you’re okay, everything’s going to be alright. You just never know, sometimes it’s challenging but it’s worth it…again it’s a blessing in disguise,” said Rackley.
Growing up, Rackley knew that he wanted to share his experiences with the younger generation of athletes and give back to the community in a way that his coaches once did for him. When the opportunity came around to be the running back coach for the football team as well, he couldn’t refuse.
As a coach, he works his athletes hard and pushes them to achieve their full potential. He admits that this year was more trial and error– as it was his first year coaching football– but that next year he has high aspirations for the team, including leading them to a state championship. For him, coaching is about helping his athletes achieve their goals.
“[My favorite part about coaching football is] helping out with the kids because sometimes they can’t come to their parents with certain things: on the field, off the field, just the stuff that they’re dealing with everyday. I encourage them and let them know that I was once in their position, I was once a teenager, I know what you’re going through, we can talk about anything, and just let them know that you can be that other bridge for them to help them get through whatever there is to get through. My favorite part would be seeing the growth in the kids and helping them out,” said Rackley.
Following the end of football season, Rackley joined the indoor track and field family as a sprinters coach. His experience running track from an early age through college makes him an admired part of the team.
“Track is my first love. I grew up in Florida, and we live and die by speed down there. If I could still run track to this day, I think I would still would. Football came over time, built up, but track was my first love growing up. I just grew up more with a love for it– all I got, being around it and then running in college, and going on to teaching and coaching kids for AAU and USA track, to now being with [the track team] out here with them is amazing and I’m thankful for it,” said Rackley.
He has been very busy during his first year at Leesville between juggling teaching and coaching two sports teams. After considering what goes on during his day for a moment, Rackley explained that he couldn’t decide what his favorite part about his day was but rather that it was a balance between multiple aspects.
Rackley said, “Once I’m here, once I’m in the classroom, it’s about the kids. I mean it’s about my kids in my class. Once I leave the class, it’s about [my track runners and football players]. It’s a balance, coming in here everyday is an opportunity to encourage [my special needs students] and then encourage [the athletes], so that’s my biggest focus.”
Whether it’s inside or outside of the classroom, Rackley selflessly chooses to mentor his students or athletes in hopes of filling their experience at Leesville with good memories and tremendous achievements.