After 15 years, men’s cross country head coach Ken Spitzig ‘75 is hanging up his laces. He shared in his own words what returning to CJ to coach has meant to him:
“I am a 1975 graduate of CJ. I have always been an ‘Eagle.’ Starting back in grade school at St. Adalbert located in Old North Dayton, I attended numerous Chaminade football and basketball games. I remember tearing up newspaper to use as confetti with a friend of mine to shower on the Chaminade football team as they ran onto the Baujan Stadium Field at UD. I also went to many of the regular season and tournament games for the 1970 basketball state championship team. I had made up my mind I was going to play basketball at Chaminade. I was approached in the fall of my freshman year at Chaminade by an upperclassman on the cross country team. He wanted to know if I had any interest in running cross country. I heard that word running and what I thought was across the country and my answer was a quick, ‘No.’ I had no clue what cross country was and was too embarrassed to ask. Little did I know what the future had in store for me.
“I made the freshman basketball team but was cut the following year. Coach Jim Turvene, the head basketball coach, pointed me toward running track and Brother Bill Grundish, the distance team track and cross country coach got me involved in cross country. My first time running cross country was my junior year, the 1973 season. This was also the year Chaminade and Julienne merged forming CJ. By this merger, I became a member of CJ’s first men’s cross country team. After all these years, I still take a lot of pride in that distinction.
“I have been a cross country coach at CJ for the last 15 years. I was hired in the 2004-05 school year by Coach Jim Place who was our AD at the time. I remember him asking me during an interview why I wanted to coach. My reply was I felt I had a lot to give. Those are the words I have always tried to live by with coaching. My first seven years I was an assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s teams. My last eight years have been spent as the men’s head coach.
“For the special moments or highlights in my coaching career, I would have to begin with the fall of 2007. As an assistant to both men’s and women’s teams, our women that season became only the 3rd women’s team in the school ‘s history to advance in Division 1 competition to the regional. Out of eight years as the men’s head coach, four teams (2011, 2012, 2016 and 2018) advanced to the Division 2 regional. The 2018 team became only the 15th team in our school’s history to advance this far in tournament competition. I was a member of the first CJ team in 1974 that advanced this far. This year too was a ‘bumper crop’ of men’s cross country athletes - 30 – the largest men’s cross country team in the school’s history. Probably the year that stands out the most is 2012 when our men advanced to the state meet becoming only the 7th team in the school’s history to accomplish this. The last team before that qualified in 1983.
“To sum up my years as a coach, it was truly a great run. There is so much pride and history in our program. I will always cherish the time I was a part of it. I can’t thank CJ enough for the chance to coach. It has truly been a great honor. I am very thankful for having been associated with some very good head coaches - Mick Mominee, Greg Mueller and Chuck Bridgman ‘79. Also, I can’t thank enough the support and help I received from my assistant coaches - Chris Ball, Nate Harrington ‘13, George Spitzig ‘10 and Jack Dalton ‘17. My own kids, Kenny ‘02, Denny ‘03, Lisa ‘05, John and George ’10 and my wife, Jeanne ‘75, have been so supportive of me through the years. I owe them so much.
“As I close this chapter in my life, I am looking forward to the extra time I will be able to spend with my wife, my own kids and grandchildren (Lilia, Joey, Emme, Bella, Sean and the two that are coming in the New Year).
“As our team’s pre-race prayer goes, ‘I care not what is behind me, only what lies ahead. All my focus is on the finish line, as I race towards the prize that God has intended for me,’ are wise words to live by with whatever endeavors you take on in life.”
Director of Athletics Jeremy Greenleaf added, “Ken has been a great coach for this school and has done everything the CJ way. He will be greatly missed and hard to replace, he has been such a great role model for our young men.”
Welcome to CJ
Jason Dembiczak has accepted the position of men’s lacrosse head coach. Dembiczak played lacrosse for the University of Dayton and has been a coach with the Eagles Lacrosse Club for four years.
“I am excited about this opportunity to grow this game with the students and see their improvement,” Dembiczak said.
Greenleaf shared, “Jason will be a great asset to the Eagle community. He has a strong background in lacrosse and has coached a lot of our young men in the past. I am glad to welcome Jason to our nest."
Posted Friday, November 23