Tennis champ takes over athletics

BP Photo by Emilie Benyowitz

Rachel Lester, Chief Layout Editor

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Shalhevet’s new Athletic Director has many ideas to improve the school’s sports program, as well as an impressive athletic resume to back them up. 

Mr. David Paradzik (pronounced Pa-RAD-zik) was an American Top 10 junior tennis player and played for the University of Michigan tennis team, for four years — as captain for two of those. He also started the Paradzik Institute of Tennis, after graduating, and coached several national tennis champions, most recently Nicole Gibbs and Clay Thompson. For the past three years he has taught physical education and tennis at Crossroads School.

Currently, he will be working at Shalhevet as the Athletic Director and help Coach Raelyn Bieda with P.E. — scheduling games, hiring coaches, finding fields and teaching boys’ P.E. He’ll also be serving as a ninth grade advisor.  

“I’m probably one of the most successful coaches in the world when it comes to junior tennis,” said Paradzik. “In that way I think it’s going to be a challenge here because people here are going to have a hard time understanding what I’ve actually done, so I’m going to have to earn the respect of the kids.“

He’s happy for the chance to stay put after years on the road coaching and attending meets.

“My wife wants me to stop traveling,” Mr. Paradzik explained, “and we want to start a family.”

Shalhevet doesn’t even have a tennis court, though there has been some interest in starting a tennis team.  Mr. Paradzik hopes to make both of these ideas reality.  He also hopes to get more girls involved in sports and to change the way games are scheduled.

“I’m worried about teachers being concerned about kids missing class,” Paradzik said. “Shalhevet is a unique school, which is why I’m going to like being part of it, but I think we should become an independent athletic power, where if we become great enough, we won’t have to leave school early–schools will play us at our time.”

Dr. Debora Parks, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, was happy to have found him.

“I needed an Athletic Director and I called my friend, the A.D. at Crossroads,” said Dr. Parks. “He called me back and told me about David, and when we met it was like, he’s our guy. I think that he’s going to be really great.” Although he will not be coaching, Mr. Paradzik says he will be at all the practices and games along the coaches he hires, because he can play every sport. Paradzik hopes to start a boys tennis team and teach a once-a-week girls tennis club. He plans for them to start in October, after the Jewish holidays.

“Well, you just made my day,” joked sophomore Ariela Feitelberg, who was part of the short-lived tennis team last year. “If we have a proper tennis coach people will take it more seriously and we will have a chance at beating other teams. It will also probably be more organized since he has a passion for tennis.”

One of Paradzik’s main goals is to get girls more involved in the athletic program, because he heard, from last year’s Athletic Director, Mr. Joel Fisher, that the girls need to become more active in sports. His long-term objective is to find facilities that can be used for all sports, but, for now, Shalhevet will continue using the Westside JCC for volleyball and basketball.

Fields for soccer and baseball are not yet booked.

Paradzik is originally from Cleveland, where he built his tennis academy before moving it to Manhattan Beach, to follow a player he was coaching. He has been running the Paradzik Institute of Tennis for a total of 14 years.

“I’m also an avid runner,” he added. “So I’m going to try to start a ‘very gentle’ running club which hopefully one day will turn into a cross-country team; one for boys, one for girls.”

He doesn’t have any professional background in a sport, besides tennis, though his father was a World Cup soccer player. Paradzik has a degree in journalism and English with a minor in political science, from the University of Michigan.

“I’m the most conservative person ever when it comes to politics, but that’s something people can meet me at lunch for,” he said with a smile.