Sitting side-by-side with her students and pouring over years’ worth of practice prompts to prepare for the next meet, Carol Cox thinks to herself, “This is what it’s all about.”
As Archer City High School’s UIL Journalism Adviser, Cox has coached her teams to 10 district, four regional and two state championships. Her passion for UIL, however, comes from much more than the winning.
“The getting to sit and talk about what’s good, what’s bad, the time spent, whether it’s over spring break or a Sunday afternoon,” Cox said, “those are what I will always remember, even beyond the winning. That to me is really why I coach journalism. It’s the connection I get to make with some really wonderful students.”
Cox participated in UIL as a student herself, competing in elementary events like spelling and oral reading and then finding her niche for journalism in high school. Now, as a teacher, she coaches News, Feature, Editorial and Headline Writing along with Current Issues and Events.
“To me, [UIL] is a way to connect with students on a different level,” Cox said. “I enjoy the competition factor and for students to simply get to write. They really get to focus on the dynamics and concepts of what is good writing.”
UIL participation also allows students to develop skills to help them excel in school and later on in life.
“I think UIL gives [students] higher order critical thinking skills,” Cox said. “They have to apply a lot of different concepts to be successful. For those who are in the writing contests, I think it helps them on standardized tests. I think UIL instills a sense of confidence in students. They get to use their brains, and, you know, we’re not all great athletes. For those who are better at academics, it gives them a place to fit and to belong.”
As education evolves, so does the UIL.
“UIL is really good about examining itself and saying, ‘Where do we need to go from here?'” Cox said. “It’s not just a stagnant, ‘we’ve always done it this way’ kind of organization. I think UIL adapts and changes.”
Overall, Cox believes UIL is a “wonderful tool for allowing students to be recognized for their achievements.”
“It has brought me so much pride to see my students excel,” Cox said. “To have students who have gone and done so well and been so successful, and then also the scholarships UIL offers for those who reach the state level. To me, it’s just a wonderful thing.”