Academic coach Waylon Slabach is a former college football long snapper. Like a kicker or a punter, he played at specific, high-pressure moments of the game. It was an underrated yet pivotal role helping his team succeed. Now, he uses the same skills—patience, tenacity, hard work, and confidence—to help his students overcome the odds and earn their high school diplomas.
Waylon compares his football days to his role as an Academic Coach at Smart Horizons where he continues to support others in making it to the finish line:
“Everyone needs someone that stands behind them, someone who supports and believes in them, someone who will help them achieve their goals,” Waylon said. “I am that person for my students. And many of them have never had that. They know they can always depend on me to always be there. I won’t give up on them, no matter what obstacles they face.”
Waylon has a long history of involvement in education and helping others. In 2013, he moved to China to teach English at a university. Waylon later went on to earn a master’s degree in intercultural studies and then worked as an adjunct communications professor at his alma mater, Ouachita Baptist University.
He now has six children and can empathize with his students’ struggles and juggling to achieve a work/life balance with two working parents.
Waylon notes that many of his students aren’t used to someone being caring and supportive during the education process. He makes a conscious effort to help keep his students on pace, build up their confidence, and be there to listen.
“I understand that it isn’t easy. That some days my students may want to throw the towel in. I empathize with them; but I am here to motivate them to keep pursuing their goals and not to give up.”
“That’s a big part of my job—just listening and being there,” he says.
From college football player to English teacher to university professor to Academic Coach, Waylon has demonstrated true dedication to supporting others—both on and off the field.
Top image: Waylon playing golf with his children Zeke and Zella
Next: Waylon and wife Candice
Next: Waylon with Candice, and their children Loki, Odin, Penelope, and Rose (dog)