Steve Wiktorowski, Jim Jones and Jim Buller are among those who have experienced athletics from all angles — as athletes, as parents and as coaches.
Wiktorowski, who has spent 32 years in education, is now athletic director at Wawasee High School in Syracuse. He formerly was head coach of boys basketball at Fairfield High School and women’s basketball at Goshen College.
“In a suburban setting like Wawasee, athletics means a lot and is often the focal point of our community,” said Wiktorowski. “Being involved in sports, and trying to maintain academics, can be a very emotional time for young people these days. It is a huge part of their lives.
When Wiktorowski was coaching he said he tried to relate to the kids so they could enjoy their experience and teach them the type of values they could carry on later into life.
“There are a lot of good things missing in society today and at Wawasee we try to preach the ‘Warrior Way.’” Wiktorowski said. “We want our student-athletes to compete with class and set example for the younger kids.”
Wawasee consists of students from Syracuse, Milford, North Webster and rural areas in Kosciusko County.
“This is the 45th year for Wawasee and the three communities have come together not only for sports but also for some trying times like a few tragedies we have endured,” Wiktorowski said. “These days, we are competing with a lot of other activities for the time of our students. I feel it is still a privilege to participate in athletics and also support them.”
Living up to influences
Jones, a Goshen High School graduate, has been a teacher and coach for 34 years. He is now the head coach of wrestling at Fairfield and once was head coach of the football Falcons. He also served stints as a football assistant at both Wawasee and Goshen.
“The main reason I went to college was due to the influence of coaches like Ken Mirer in football and John Dechant in wrestling at Goshen High School,” said Jones.
“I try to pass those values on to the athletes I have coached and also my own children.
“Participating in athletics takes up a lot of time these days. Summer is now based a lot on workouts. I try to preach a good work ethic to get through the tough times.
“I figure if a young man can make it through four years of wrestling, he can handle just about anything life has to offer. Now, I’m able to pass on these lessons to athletes whose parents I coached a few years ago.”