Coach Ronnie “Flava” Winbush is new Athletic Director

By Zev Hurwitz, Editor-in-Chief

Longtime coach Ronnie “Flava” Winbush assumed the post of Athletic Director Jan. 2, taking over from coach and former tennis pro Dave Paradzik who left after less than a semester to become Director of Tennis for the City of Manhattan Beach.

The news about Mr. WInbush was greeted with applause from many community members as soon as it was announced Dec. 16 in an e-mail from Head of School Nat Reynolds to faculty. Mr. Reynolds said the transition would hopefully be minimally consequential.

“Ronnie’s skill and long experience at Shalhevet will make the transition a smooth one for all concerned,” Mr. Reynolds wrote. “I am confident that I speak for the entire faculty and staff when I wish David great success and fulfillment in his new and challenging job.”

Known to students exclusively as “Coach Flava,” the new athletic director has been coaching girls’ basketball this season. He first arrived at Shalhevet in 2006, and coached four years of boys’ basketball while running P.E. classes for middle and lower school students.

As Varsity Basketball coach, Flava led the team to consecutive playoff berths in 2009 and 2010, and strong finishes in multiple tournaments in New York. Earlier this year, Flava was named 2010 Mulholland League Coach of the Year.

“I love Flava,” said sophomore Eitan Rothman, who plays on the Basketball team. “He’s a great part of Shalhevet culture and I’m glad he’s back full time.”

Coach Flava says he wants to continue to nurture the program as in past years.

“Shalhevet athletics have taken steps forward each year,” he told The Boiling Point. “I just want our program to grow and take positive steps in the right direction.

Mr. Paradzik, who was a tennis champion at the University of Michigan, joined a line of successive athletic directors to leave Shalhevet after one year or less. Flava is now the sixth person to hold the position since 2008, when longtime A.D. Chad Dillard departed for Arizona. After Mr. Dillard came Eduar Mitchell, James Davis, Joel Fisher and Mr. Paradzik.

Among several notable achievements, Mr. Paradzik is credited with organizing the school’s first ever home game on campus, an Oct.11 volleyball matchup with Summit View West played on the year-old Sport Court. Senior Stephanie Salem, who is co-captain of the volleyball team, said she appreciated Mr. Paradzik’s direct involvement with the team.

“He came to a few of our games and even served as a surrogate coach when our coach was absent,” Stephanie said. “I really enjoyed the [Sport Court] game. The whole school was on hand to support us and people dropped in during breaks. No one had to drive anywhere. It’s nice to have that kind of support.”

Mr. Paradzik also worked to have all of Shalhevet’s teams certified by the California Intersholastic Federation (CIF), and a CIF banner now adorns the Sport Court fence for the first time. Still, no more games are set to be played on campus.

“It can only work if both sides agree,” Mr. Paradzik pointed out. “Any opponent can refuse to play on the Sport Court.”

Student athletic leaders said they anticipated little change with the latest turnover in the athletic department.

“The change won’t really affect our performance,” said boys Varsity Basketball co-captain Eitan Spitzer. “But it’s good to know Flava is going to be in a good state.”

“I’m excited to see what Flava does with the Athletic department,” said girls’soccer co-captain Nicole Bazak added.

Though Mr. Paradzik only began work in August, he says he would miss working with his colleagues.

“They’re awesome,” he said.