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Tatiana Booth is a prime example of what a student can quickly achieve at East Central University and beyond. Booth, who came to ECU as a student-athlete, is developing into a teacher, coach and mentor. That was particularly the case to the students in the nearby Byng School District.

To say the graduate student from Commerce, Texas has been busy during the 2012-13 school year is a mild understatement. Booth’s full itinerary began back in the fall, playing her senior season on the ECU volleyball team, and carrying a full load of classes to go with two part-time jobs.

Her latest successful venture played out as an assistant coach with the Class 4A state tournament qualifying Byng High School girls’ basketball team. The 26-4 Lady Pirates benefitted from Booth’s presence, according to Byng Head Coach Matt Fike.

“Our girls took to her immediately. She has a great personality, but also understands about professional distance. I really think Tatiana is on the front end of what will be a successful coaching career,” said Fike. “She’s an excellent role model and obviously has great work ethic with being an NCAA athlete.”

Booth did her student teaching at Byng during the fall and Fike immediately realized her value at that time.

“I let her run our preseason workouts in the weight room. She had a lot of good things she brought in (conditioning-wise) from ECU,” Fike said.

Fike thinks so highly of Booth that he hopes his two daughters, Kaylen and Kendall, who are members of the Byng team, can emulate her.

“Tatiana is the kind of woman that my two daughters can look to. She is a fine example of what you would want your daughters to be,” said Matt Fike.

The feeling is mutual for Booth toward Byng, a place she has fallen in love with.

“It’s really been a fun experience getting to know the girls and coaches and to be on the other side of things (as a coach instead of a player),” Booth said.

Booth’s presence has made such an impact that Byng students, parents and teachers attended ECU volleyball matches during the fall to show their support for her.

“To see the students and their parents, along with teachers, at our games was the cherry on top for my senior season,” said Booth.

During the fall, Booth did her student teaching under eighth grade history teacher Lynne White, who had some glowing observations.

“She has the God-given ability to teach. She’s a natural-born leader, who is very dedicated. She just doesn’t just talk the talk, but she walks the walk as well,” White said.

To Booth, it was a matter of engaging the students, according to White.

For example, Booth led the students in a learning session about the Preamble to the Constitution, using the Schoolhouse Rock song.

“In an impromptu manner, she was clicking her fingers and was trying to get the students to do it and sing with her,” said White. “She has the ability to hold kids’ attention, inspiring them to work, and to the students, it didn’t feel like too much work. They were eager to do it.”

Booth knows firsthand how a twist of fate can lead to an awesome experience. A knee injury early in her collegiate career afforded her an extra year at ECU.

“It’s been a humbling experience. The extra year for me here was to be at Byng,” Booth said.

ECU head volleyball Dave Thorn has known first-hand the qualities that Booth has brought to the table since she arrived on campus as a redshirt sophomore in 2010.

“She’s the model student-athlete. She’s very conscientious off the court with taking care of business in the classroom, she was a two-time all-conference performer and three-year team captain. I couldn’t have asked for more,” Thorn said. “She is genuine and got along with everyone on the team the whole time she was here.”

Booth’s volleyball playing career is over, but her presence won’t immediately be gone, according to Thorn.

“We’re very fortunate that she is staying to help us out (coaching) with volleyball this spring,” said Thorn, whose squad recently launched offseason spring workouts.

For the second straight year, Booth received recognition from the Great American Conference as she was named to the 2012 All-GAC Volleyball First Team after leading the league in hitting percentage (.350 during conference matches and .299 overall).

Booth is working on a master’s degree in sports administration in hopes of landing a future teaching/coaching career.

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