The man behind the athletic department: a Q&A with Athletic Director John Dzik

By: Janie Harris
Sports Editor

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Director Of Intercollegiate Athletics John Dzik

John Dzik spent his entire life in Pennsylvania before he moved to Piedmont to take on his current role as the director of intercollegiate athletics. As an athletic director, Dzik plays an important role in the daily workings of the athletic department, but most students at Piedmont do not know much about who Dzik is other than the athletic director.
Harris : How do you think someone would describe you?
Dzik: That’s a good question. I’m not sure how people would describe me. I scare people. I don’t know why, but I do. I think it’s my demeanor. I don’t smile enough. I think until people get to know me, they are kind of stand offish to a certain degree. But I think that when people get to know me, they find out that my bark is worse than my bite.
H: What do you do when you are not at Piedmont?
D: I spend a lot of time at my house just up the hill from here. I have two cats in my house that I take care of and two cats outside. I love animals, cats particularly. I am a cat guy. My wife and I are empty nesters, so for hobbies, we will go to wineries and festivals that they have in Georgia. I try to just take it easy to be honest with you. I try not to do anything too special. I enjoy each day, that’s all. I try to make the most of each day.
H: What do athletic directors do?
D: They solve problems, but they only solve about 25 percent of the problems that cross their desk. I’m about a .250 hitter. Another 25 percent of the problems that hit my desk are other people’s problems, and I can’t solve other people’s problems. Then the last 50 percent of the problems that cross my desk, I could solve if I had enough money.
H: What was the best thing that has happened to you since you started working at Piedmont?
D: I have had a lot of good things happen to me. The opportunity to coach women’s basketball was probably the best. As much as I have coached, I always coached men. Just the experience of coaching women’s basketball was the best thing that happened to me to give me the perspective of coaching young women and the difference between men and women. So I can understand my women’s coaches better now because I can understand the issues that they have when they are dealing with young women coaching, so that was a valuable experience.
H: What about the worse thing?
D: When I first got here, Coach Cooper was the basketball coach and a renowned figure in Georgia basketball lure. In fact, when I interviewed here, he was the one person that I said I don’t care what I do here, I want to meet Coach Cooper. As I was getting the job, Coach Cooper died. So I came in here with someone whom I knew was going to have our women’s basketball job nailed down, and he died. Jamie Purdy took over. When I met her, she was coming up to be his assistant coach. And I was the one who told her Coach Cooper died. That was not fun.
H: What might a student be surprised to know about you?
D: I taught third grade, fourth grade and kindergarten. I taught elementary school for seven years before I went into sales. I was in sales for three of four years then I became director of admissions at the school I was at, and then I eventually became the director of athletics. So I had sort of an interesting career path. Not too many athletic directors taught kindergarten. I was actually the first male kindergarten teacher in my county.
The other thing people might not know about me is that I don’t particularly like sports. I don’t like to sit around and watch NFL football on Sundays. I would much rather watch our student athletes in a game. I’d rather watch the kids that I know participate than any professional sport. I guess I should say I am not a fan of professional sports.
Also, I like to garden. I don’t garden here because it is not my property. I rent the house. I have a property in South Carolina on St. Pawley’s Island, but I don’t garden there either because I am never there. But when I eventually retire, I’ll move and start gardening down there. I don’t think too many people think of me as a gardener. I like flowers. In my old job, I used to bring in fresh flowers once a week, and the women used to look at me like I was crazy.
H: Do you plan on retiring soon?
D: In the near future, I don’t have any definite timeline right now, but in the near future, yeah. I think I am getting to the end of my career. I love what I do. I am not going to retire for any other reason than I think my wife would like to spend more time in our home in South Carolina, and she would like to spend it there with me.
H: What do you find most challenging about your position?
D: The part I like about my job the most is the part that is most challenging. Every day is different. There are no two days that are the same. There is no telling what will walk through that door. It is the challenge of dealing with something new each and every day.