by Amy Gassen
Shivering from the coldness of the air and of abandonment, malnourished felines casually make their way to a friendly residence that sits in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
Acting as a halfway house director for furry creatures, “John Dzik takes care of cats in his neighborhood that don’t seem to have a home.” Leslie Danehy, assistant director of athletics said, “He loves cats.”
“He’s a fiery type of guy at times, but very caring at times,” Mike Keeley, men’s assistant basketball coach, said.
On Jan. 20, Dzik was honored before the tip-off of the men’s basketball game against Eastern College.
He was not given a well-deserved humanitarian award for his kindness toward animals.
Instead, Dzik was honored for a coaching victory against Marymount College that took place on the Cavaliers court on Dec. 10, 2000. This victory brought Dziks coaching success to a record 400 wins.
Dzik was given a blue-and-white banner that proudly displays his name along with the fact that he has captured his 400th win on the basketball court.
Currently hanging proudly in his office, the banner will eventually be put on permanent display in the rafters of the gym.
“This man is one hell of a guy,” Dr. Antoinette Iadarola, president of Cabrini College, said. She introduced Dzik before listing his coaching accomplishments.
According to Iadarola, Dzik’s accomplishments in coaching include presiding over the all-time winningest program in NCAA Division III history, obtaining 13 conference championships in 20 seasons, receiving recognition for Coach of the Year five times, and of capturing 19 winning seasons in 20 years.
“I actually had goose bumps when I read these,” Iadarola stated about Dzik’s successful career.
After Iadarola confessed to having played basketball in her youth, she handed the microphone over to Dzik. Dzik expressed his appreciation for his assistant coaches Keeley, and Joe Kelly. “I share any accomplishment I have had with basketball with these two gentleman,” Dzik said. “Two of (the wins) happened when I wasn’t even there,” Dzik said. “I shouldn’t take full credit.”
Dzik is also known for his success in serving as the athletic director for Cabrini. He is praised for bringing the athletic programs national success. Although he coached the year that the program took off, Dzik does not like to take the full credit that is often given to him. “I don’t think Dr. Girard gets the credit he actually deserves for going through the process to get Cabrini into a national organization,” Dzik said. “He did a lot of paper work to get the teams some respect and credibility.”
Coaching teams and being honored for his accomplishments are nothing new for Dzik.
Dzik’s success in coaching started at the age of 16, years before he landed his current job as director of athletics and as the men’s head basketball coach. His coaching resume includes football, basketball, baseball, and golf.
Throughout college, Dzik volunteered as a coach for youth organizations. After graduation, he was honored with the award as Sportsman of the Year in Delaware County. “I was the youngest to receive the award,” Dzik said.
Dzik started his journey by assistant coaching a handful of basketball teams. He became an assistant coach at Upper Darby High School before becoming an assistant coach as St. Joseph’s University. “When I was an assistant at St Joe’s, my goal was to become a full time Division I basketball coach,” Dzik said.
“St. Joe’s staff got fired,” Dzik said, “and I landed at Widener as an assistant for a year. In 1980, I got the job here at Cabrini.”
Dzik considered his position at Cabrini to be another coaching experience to add to his resume before landing it big in Division I. “Somewhere along the line,” Dzik said, “I realized I was very happy where I am at.”
Coaching, however, was not always his passion. “I played basketball for Sharon Hill High School,” Dzik said. “I scored seven points my senior year. The day the season started, I was diagnosed with mono and bedridden for six weeks.”
“After I recovered,” Dzik said, “I had lost so much weight and so much strength that I couldn’t play.”
Although he was on the injured list, Dzik played in the last game of his senior year. “My wife, who I went to high school with, and all of my friends carried me off the court after the game because I scored a basket.”
When he was given the banner, Dzik had his wife stand-up in the bleachers where she sat ready to watch the game. Smiling, Dzik thanked his wife and told her that he loved her. Fiery and cari