New coach at TRHS


Coach Pazderak training on a snowy street. Image via Canton Repository

On the 11th of January, it was confirmed via the Roosevelt Athletics Twitter page that Matt Pazderak was named the newest cross country coach.

Pazderak has been a 6th-grade math and science teacher at Stanton Middle School for 23 years, a veteran of the school district.

When asked to comment on why he decided to make the switch, Pazderak stated, “I have been coaching at the middle school level for 16 years, and although I have had the opportunity in the past to make the transition from middle school to high school, I’ve really grown to want the opportunity to coach athletes for a longer period of time.” With middle school athletics only lasting a maximum of 2 years, the “development over a 4 year span” is the biggest draw for Pazderak.

Pazderak attributes his coaching strengths to “hav[ing] experience training kids with no athletic experience to those that have some running experience.” Some of his other strengths include his “organization, knowledge of what it takes to organize a program, and [his] experience being a runner [himself] and running competitively.” Pazderak has completed over 20 marathons in his 30 years of running. “I am excited to bring that wisdom to high school athletes,” he stated.

With the new season getting ever closer, there are many things to look forward to. “I’m excited to try some new things with training and competition,” states Pazderak. With more meets and longer practices, the high school team will offer more opportunities to try new strategies. “I’m excited to get to know new athletes as well as coach athletes that I’ve had the experience of coaching in middle school,” continued Pazderak. Community is one of the biggest parts of the cross country team, and this community starts with strong coaching.

The cross country team has a history of good coaching. Back in the early 1980s, cross country was one of the most successful programs at Roosevelt, led by coach Charles Lucas. The boy’s team took home the Division 1 AAA Class state championship in both 1980 and 1981, and the girls team made the state meet in 1981.

Ever since Roosevelt joined the Suburban League in 2015, the cross country program has struggled to catch its stride. The boy’s team has finished 6th or 7th each of the past 5 years in the American League Championship, and the girl’s team has had similar struggles.

With a new perspective on coaching, maybe 2022 will be the year that cross country returns to its former glory. “I’m really excited to see what this team can do competitively,” stated Pazderak.