It was my first year of high school and I wanted to play a sport in the fall. Having played volleyball in middle school, and enjoying it thoroughly, I decided to sign up to tryout for the Arrowhead High School volleyball team.
On the first day of tryouts, I noticed the associate principal, Mrs. Paradowski, was the coach. I immediately thought it was going to be a very strict team, but luckily I was wrong.
Mrs. Paradowski was an incredible coach and an even better person. She can always find the good in any situation and is always in an amazing mood. This does not mean however that she can’t be strict. To be a good coach and a good principal at the same time must be incredibly hard, and Mrs. Paradowski does it perfectly.
When we started our first day of practice, nobody knew how the season would go or if it would be good or bad to have Mrs. Paradowski as a coach. Starting off the first day, we introduced ourselves to each other and started to separate into groups of passers and spikers. I chose to go into the spikers. Our entire team except for two people wanted to be spikers so Mrs. Paradowski encouraged me and a teammate to go into the passer group to even the amount out a little bit. This turned out to be what was best for me as a player, because I ended up being one of the main passers for the whole season. This showed me that I needed to be open to different things and Mrs. Paradowski opened me up to that.
About halfway through the season Mrs. Paradowski pulled me aside and said, “You have been doing great recently and the JV coach wants you to start practicing with them instead of the freshmen.”
I was filled with joy and excitement for what was next. After practicing with JV for a couple of weeks, Mrs. Paradowski and the JV coach pulled me aside and asked me if I wanted to move up to JV for games as well as practice.
I was very happy with the offer but I did not want to leave Mrs. Paradowski as a coach. By this time the season was almost over and I knew by playing with JV would make me a better player so I accepted the offer. Mrs. Paradowski was happy for me but was not happy she was losing me as a player.
Mrs. Paradowski is now my favorite administrator at Arrowhead, because she taught me how to be open to change and gave me the best season of a sport I have ever had. Although I have stopped playing volleyball, I still thank Mrs. Paradowski for coaching me and making every day exciting and enjoyable. I am glad I chose to play volleyball in high school because it was an experience I will always remember.
It’s hard finding a solid coach since almost all coaches have some flaw. Most coaches either don’t relate with their players, don’t have a positive attitude, can’t control their players, or are uninspiring (and some don’t do any of those). But I was blessed with Coach Paradowski.
I stood in the gym two weeks before freshman year. I had made the freshman volleyball team. I was excited to not only be on the team, but to make new friends and to get to know the school before I started my freshman year. Not only that, but I was one of the two captains on the team too.
My coach walked into the gym. She was no more than 5’ 5”, but with a loud booming voice. Her voice itself was a megaphone. She was assertive and confident in everything she said, which contrasted the shy freshmen on the team, too scared to speak a word. She said, “know and accept your role on the team” but more importantly, she said we should “always have a positive mindset.”
We were a respectable team. We put up a fight with most the other teams, keeping scores close. We were within reach of a win in a lot of games. But, in one game early in the season, our team played badly, myself included. We all made careless mistakes (like hitting the ball out of bounds and missing easy passes). I tried to help encourage the team and stay positive, but it didn’t work. We were getting crushed.
When it was my turn to serve, it sailed into the net, dropping to the ground, and my head dropped with it. Right after that, Coach Paradowski subbed me out of the game. I shook my head in disgust, walking to the bench.
She stopped me before I sat on the bench. “What happened out there?”
“What do you mean? I missed a serve.”
“No, missing the serve had nothing to do with you getting subbed out. I wouldn’t care if you were playing badly, but you hung your head. You had a bad attitude. You were setting a bad tone. You didn’t believe in the team. I need more from a team captain.”
Confused, I thought about what she said for the rest of the game. So I literally could have missed every serve, missed every pass, hit the ball out of bounds, and not gotten benched? Previous coaches would bench me immediately if I made an error. But apparently not Coach Paradowski.
That was her motto the entire season. “Have a good attitude.” She never benched anyone unless their attitude was negative. And it worked. We were soon working together as a team, encouraging each other more, not caring if we made mistakes. We were winning more games.
She understood us as players. After all, she was the associate principal of a high school, so it was easy for her to relate to us high school students. She learned our personalities and tendencies, and would talk to us accordingly. She helped the shy ones have a voice while keeping the troublemakers in their place. As for me, my fiery competitive personality would get the best of me at times, but she knew what to do to calm me down.
But what set coach Paradowski apart from other coaches is that Paradowski’s first priority was making us better people. She couldn’t have cared less if we lost every game. All she cared about is that we kept our head held high, regardless of the score. She wanted us to have a good attitude, no matter how much adversity we were facing. That’s a lesson I’m never going to forget—one far more important than any other coach has taught me.
Sure, we only won a little less than half of the games we played that year. Sure, we didn’t beat our rivals Kettle Moraine or CMH at the Conference Tournament. Sure, we weren’t the best team in any gym we played in, but none of that mattered. I was proud to be on that team, and I was happy with what we were able to accomplish. I knew I wasn’t going to have a coach like Paradowski ever again, and I am blessed to have had her as a coach.
I still see her once in a while, though not much anymore since I am at a different campus. But when I do see her, she lightens my mood. She always says hello and checks in on how life is, how it is being a sophomore or junior (or soon a senior). She’s someone I’m never going to forget.
I was nervous and anxious to come to a high school. I didn’t know what to expect, especially having new classes with new students. Not knowing where my classes were was super stressful! However, as a junior and looking back, I have fond memories of both freshman and sophomore year. It definitely went too fast and I wish those years would have slowed down. There were a couple of people who helped me the most, but Ms. Debra Paradowski is one who I will never forget.
My sophomore year was challenging with friends and overthinking situations inside my head. But Ms. Paradowski changed my perspective on high school. Ms. Paradowski was like a warm sugar cookie who I looked forward to talking to. She was available when I needed to talk to someone. It didn’t matter how busy she was, she put everything down to talk to me and I appreciated that.
Ms. Paradowki provided me with an opportunity to play the morning music for South Campus. It became the perfect way to start my day. I made people's days happier with the music.
Ms. Paradowski told me I should help with her volleyball team and I helped with the JV Volleyball team last year to help manage the team. It was fun to hang out with the other kids and my principal too! Then, when volleyball was over, I helped Ms. Paradowski with softball in the spring. I love doing this type of activity because it gives me something to do after school and to meet new kids that go to Arrowhead.
I joined late because I was in a hospital for a little over a week and Ms. Paradowski knew what I was going thow and she helped me to stay positive. When softball was going on, we had the best time going to Sam's club and drop me off at my house when my dad was late. Ms. Paradowski helped me out last year and this year even though I am at a new campus. I believe that Ms. Paradowski deserves being Teacher of the Year and I would like to nominate her because she is thoughtful, kind hearted, extroverted and made a difference in my life and I thank her for that.