Welcome to our series, #WHYoming.
We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?
For this week’s #WHYoming, I had a chance to talk with Eric Urlacher, a physical education and health teacher at Stagecoach Elementary school. Eric brings enthusiasm to his class, encouraging students to not only have fun and live healthy lives, but to become their best selves. I saw this firsthand as Eric threw me and our lovely Marketing & Communications Specialist Kaylee into a fun Christmas game during one of his gym classes. We both had a blast and him and his students were amazingly welcoming.
It’s always exciting to find someone who cares so passionately about their job, especially when they’re working with children. (And man, it sure made me miss PE class from when I was a kid.) Sweetwater County is full of great people, which Eric kept pointing out throughout the process of creating this article as he expressed his honor for being selected for #WHYoming, but it’s truly people like Eric who make this community such a great place to live. Eric dedicates his career and so much of his free time to ensuring people are supported- whether it’s his students, the kids who benefit from Coats for Kids, or his own wife and children. Rock Springs and Sweetwater County are lucky to have him.
Eric, what do you do for a living?
I am physically active for a lifetime! I like to think that my job is to always strive to be the best-version-of-myself and help others do the same. I wear many hats, but my primary role is as a physical education and health teacher at Stagecoach Elementary school in Rock Springs. Go Stallions! One of my newer hats is teaching Wilderness Navigation at WWCC! Lifelong Learners welcome, it’s in the spring catalog!
What do you enjoy about your job?
“You don’t stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing!” – I love my job. I enjoy coming up with the coolest lessons possible to inspire students to enjoy physical activity and health for their entire lives. “Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm”.
What organizations and events are you involved in outside your job?
My primary medium of service is via Holy Spirit Catholic Community and Knights of Columbus council #2441. Coats for Kids is a direct initiative of the KoFC. I am the race director for the Coats for Kids 5k/10k trail run, we just held our 4th annual event this August and raised around $1,600 plus physical donations thanks to our community. Come run/walk next august!
I have been involved as a coach and volunteer for our local track and cross country programs. I fought wildfire with the Forest Service and have been known to sell a cord of firewood. I am professionally involved with the Wyoming Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (WAHPERD). And as mentioned above, come take Wilderness Navigation at WWCC!
Why do you think it’s important to volunteer your time in these outside events and organizations?
“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” – St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. We each have a role to play, and have been gifted unique talents and opportunities. If we all do small things with great love where there is need, we can set the world ablaze!
How did you end up in Rock Springs?
Sweetwater County School District No. 1 was hiring, and I am proud to be a Sweetwater No. 1 educator! My beautiful wife Andrea is from Rock Springs and that helps keep me in the coolest place, too!
What do you appreciate most about our community?
Public land, and that the people are nice in public.
What are some of your hobbies?
RUNNING! I love and appreciate our local annual races such as the Run with the Horses Marathon (Terry and John Pawleska are Sweetwater race director Legends!), Nun Too Fast 5k put on by Holy Sprit Catholic Youth, and the Frostbite 5k, 10k and kids 1 mile coming up in February in Green River, see you there! All ages and abilities welcome!
Also, hiking, backpacking, peak bagging, hunting… Fishing, thanks to my good buddy David Chapman, and going on SWEET adventures with my son Jacob and daughter Ava (I get to do all the fun kid stuff without looking like a weirddooooo!!)
If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because that is what the world needs, people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire” – St. Catherine of Siena
Where is your favorite place to hang out in Sweetwater County?
All of it! I would strongly encourage everyone regardless of your personal hobby to check out the “Sweetwater Adventure Guide” by Mr. Dylan Bear. Whether you run, walk, take photos, water sports, fish, hunt or rock hound, this book has everything. Our county is so vast! I know that they have been on sale recently at the RS Chamber of Commerce and Coal Train Coffee Depot! If you can’t find them there, shoot me a message!
Who would you want to play you in a movie about yourself?
Danny DeVito. I always say when watching a movie… ”Wouldn’t it be funny if that character was played by Danny DeVito?” The more ridiculous it would be, the better!
What would you sing at karaoke?
I don’t drink a ton, so if you get one White Russian in me I’ll be spiced up enough to sing whatever you want.
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
Every time a kid says they LOVE PE.
What’s something unique about you?
I’m a bit of an idealist, and I have two webbed toes.
What is your favorite thing about Christmas and the holiday season?
Every year around Christmas a man named Victor, who is literally from and resides in Bethlehem, comes around Rock Springs and sells authentic olive wood carvings of various things such as nativity scenes. He and his community are persecuted because of their beliefs, and one of their only sources of income are selling these beautiful carvings. The message we are always reminded of at Christmas; hope, tolerance, love and peace.
Why do you choose to live in Wyoming?
You know what, I’ve walked the Camino De Santiago in Spain, worked in Alaska, fought wildfire across the mountain west, crushed Space Mountain at Disneyland, swam in two oceans, and sweated in Nebraska. Wyoming bakes the cake, Wyoming takes the cake.