The fall sports season begins Monday, and so it comes as little surprise that Huntley athletic director Chris Rozanski carries around a lengthy to-do list. Rozanski, 38, took over as head of the Red Raiders’ athletic department last month after 14 years as a science teacher, coach and administrator at Rockford Boylan. He replaced Michelle Jakubowski, who left to become the girls volleyball coach at Barrington.
It was an opportunity that came along unexpectedly at the start of the summer. I got a phone call from somebody in this area and they said, ‘Hey, this came open at the beginning of the summer. You interested?’ I investigated it a little bit, started to like what I heard, followed through with things, went through the interview process and here I am. Rockford Boylan is a good place, great academics, great athletics, great community. For where I was in my life, though, I saw it as an opportunity I needed to take advantage of. I saw what they (Huntley) have currently. I saw the vision.
I knew back in college I wanted to be involved in coaching. I knew that teaching would provide that opportunity. And, well, I came to find that the two are pretty close. Whether you’re teaching academics or you’re teaching athletic skills. There’s still a teaching element to it. The two of them came together. My dad, just two years out, is a retired teacher himself. So, I was around it as a kid. Now my sister’s a teacher. My brother-in-law’s a teacher. You stay in education long enough, some of my good friends are still teaching and have been in coaching for a long time. I played sports growing up, football, basketball, baseball. I saw it as an opportunity just to stay involved.
I think all educators, part of what they do it for, is to shape the future of that particular student, or class, or team. So, to see how that product looks 10, 15 years later makes you feel real appreciative of some of the stresses you’re going through in the moment. That’s been nice to look back on.
You have to be involved. As much as you ask the students to be involved in their high school life, you have to begin and maintain relationships with students, teachers, coaches and the administration. Extend yourself out to the community and begin, because it’s a fluid process and ever-evolving to understand how things are in the Huntley area, where they’ve been and where they can go. I think it’s being able to listen, not coming in to rock the boat and change things tremendously. But get a sense of what’s currently here and then to lead in a manner the school board, the school district thinks is appropriate for me.
I’m as close to a brand new personality, short of being a new teacher out of college, to a building. So, it is having to listen. I’ve found through teaching, through coaching, through administration, that listening to both sides of the story, whether there are three sides, whatever the expression, to give yourself the best picture possible to make decisions. Whether it’s in academics with a student-teacher conflict. Whether it’s in athletics with a player and a coach. Being able to hear both sides, being able to see if they can see each other’s point of view as well and then make a good decision based off information you’re collecting. So is there humility? Absolutely.
• I’m Just Saying is a regular Sunday feature. If there’s someone you’d like to see featured, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message on Twitter @joeyrkaufman.