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TODAY news for Thursday, December 14, 2006

Loma Linda University news

Let the games begin: Intramurals manager knows games

Ron Cronk, intramurals manager at LLU Drayson Center, displays the notebook he created which explains and illustrates how to create Scooter Town USA, which he created for his elementary physical education classes.
Ron Cronk, intramurals manager at LLU Drayson Center, displays the notebook he created which explains and illustrates how to create Scooter Town USA, which he created for his elementary physical education classes.
Ron Cronk, intramurals manager at Loma Linda University Drayson Center, knows games. As a physical education teacher for 26 years, he has devoted his career to games and fitness.

“When I first came to Loma Linda University in the summer of 1997,” says Mr. Cronk, “the intramurals program averaged about 25 teams playing several sports each quarter.”

Now there are 85 to 90 teams each quarter, he reports, playing a variety of traditional sports including basketball, soccer, softball, volleyball, and flag football. In addition, some less-traditional intramural leagues include dodgeball, innertube water polo, and beach volleyball.

According to state-mandated guidelines adopted in the 1970s (Title 9), all sports activities must be equally available for both men and women.

Mr. Cronk has brought the Drayson Center’s intramurals program into compliance with Title 9, organizing men’s, women’s, and/or co-rec leagues in a variety of sports.

When most of his career has been spent with elementary children, what brought him to Loma Linda University?

“I’m still working with kids,” he points out. “They’re just in bigger bodies.”

Many of his ideas and skills from teaching elementary physical education have translated easily to the university setting. When a particular sport or game does not meet his needs, Mr. Cronk has no problem adjusting the rules or changing them altogether.

“I set up the rules in our intram
Students at Loma Linda Academy enjoy Scooter Town USA, which they helped to create. The activity promotes physical exercise and good citizenship at the same time.
Students at Loma Linda Academy enjoy Scooter Town USA, which they helped to create. The activity promotes physical exercise and good citizenship at the same time.
ural leagues to encourage Christian values, fair play, and safety—particularly with our co-rec leagues,” says Mr. Cronk. “Aggressive or unsportsmanlike behavior has no place at Loma Linda.”

As a result of his efforts, co-rec leagues are not only possible but have become increasingly popular. “I’ve found that more socializing and less aggression take place in co-rec league play,” Mr. Cronk notes. “That leads to fewer discipline problems.”

In earlier years, Mr. Cronk has been known to create activities from scratch.

“What I really enjoyed about teaching elementary P. E. was that nothing was in concrete,” Mr. Cronk elaborates. “I was able to create activities that would encourage fitness and exercise, while giving my students the chance to learn Christian values and everyday life values through sports and games.”

One example of his game creation was known as “Scooter Town USA.” Mr. Cronk hand-made a number of scooters on which his students would sit and push themselves around a town that they had helped create.

“I would take furniture boxes of different sizes to the various classrooms,” Mr. Cronk recalls, “and each class was responsible for creating a building in the town—which helped students take ownership in the construction of Scooter Town.”

In the town were Smacdonald’s and Vegeburger King, as well as a fire station, supermarket, and the Boohoo Scooter Jail.

The town had stop lights and speed signs, as well as a grid of streets and avenues. While working at Loma Linda Academy, beginning in 1987, Mr. Cronk’s Scooter Town USA also included Loma Linda University Medical Center, where “victims” of scooter accidents were taken to “recover,” Loma Linda Academy as the school, as well as Loma Linda University Church.

“Scooter Town taught the kids a number of life values,” explains Mr. Cronk. “There were consequences for violating the rules, helping to teach the kids to be good drivers and good citizens.”

Students sat in Boohoo Scooter jail for a certain amount of minutes, depending on the “severity” of the violation. Patrol officers, complete with “police” helmets, gave citations to the violators and impounded their scooters.

So, while having fun, the children were taking part in physical activity.

This same principle Mr. Cronk used while teaching another innovative program at Loma Linda.

Growing Fit, a program developed by pediatrician Larry Yen, MD, around 1999, clinically evaluates obese young people on a regular basis, while involving them and their families in a variety of fun activities, nutritional counseling, and peer group support. Mr. Cronk was responsible for developing the fitness clinic portion of the program.

While Mr. Cronk is no longer directly involved, the program continues to hold most of its activities at Drayson Center.

Mr. Cronk has been recognized for his teaching efforts a number of times throughout the years. While teaching elementary children, he received Program Development Awards on two occasions from the Seventh-day Adventist educational departments in conferences where he worked—one for Scooter Town USA and the other for Jelly-bean/Peanut Day.

In 1984, he was honored when his school was chosen to be among four model schools recognized for physical education programs in the state of Oregon—the first and only time a private school has ever been included in this group to the best of his knowledge. His school was also designated as a resource and observation center for physical education teachers sent by their administrators to glean ideas for their own physical education programs.

In 1991, he received the Zapara Award for Excellence in Teaching, given by the Seventh-day Adventist Church to teachers in its educational system who “go above and beyond” in working with children.

While teaching in Oregon, he headed up the demonstration team for the Jump Rope for Heart initiative, traveling to schools throughout the state to promote the program. He has also produced two teaching videos, promoting exercise through jump-roping and “tinikling” (based on a Filipino cultural dance).

Mr. Cronk has conducted numerous physical education workshops for teachers, and is still being contacted by teachers for program ideas.

In addition to his duties as intramurals manager at Drayson Center, Mr. Cronk serves as instructor for the class “PEAC 110,” an independent physical education course for LLU students which evaluates their levels of personal fitness and helps them develop a fitness program for themselves that fits into their busy schedules.

Regarding his philosophy toward sports and recreation, Mr. Cronk is quick to point out, “I believe in a non-competitive approach. Individuals should compete with themselves and do their best to improve.”

He adds, “Everyone is a winner if they’ve had a good time and given their best.”

To find out more about intramural leagues and other recreational activities at LLU Drayson Center, call the membership desk at (909) 558-4275.

By Larry Kidder, MA

TODAY news for Thursday, December 14, 2006