Life lessons on and off the court

. February 11, 2013.

Make no mistake-Tod Kowalczyk is very well aware of the challenges that lie ahead of him and his players this season.  As the new head coach of the University of Toledo’s men’s basketball team, he steps into a basketball program that saw only four wins last season.  Not discouraged in the least, Kowalczyk sees a team with a lot of potential and an opportunity to build something great.
Those who know him speak of his integrity, hard work, solid character, humbleness, and the way he cares about his team.  He spent the last eight years rebuilding the basketball program at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Kowalczyk knows there is more to it than winning games, or perfecting the slam-dunk.  He and his staff want to recruit players that not only want to be the best basketball players they can be, but who also understand the importance of a college degree. “Our philosophy is that academics always is, and always will be, number one,” said Kowalczyk.
Beyond the sidelines
Consequently, his job extends well beyond the sidelines. “We monitor our academics very closely.  It’s my job, my responsibility, to make sure that they graduate,”said Kowalczyk.   He holds his students accountable not just academically, but also socially. “We try to run our program as a family,” he says. To Kowalczyk and his staff, “family” includes not only the team, but also includes close contact with the parents and extended family of each player.
The son of a 30-year high school coach and athletic director in Wisconsin, Kowalczyk said, “I knew at a very young age that I wanted to coach.”  Now a husband and father of two young children, he’ll be the first to tell you, “I think being married and having a family has helped me become a better coach, and a better person.”  His  college coach, Dale Race, at, the University of Minnesota-Duluth, has had one of the greatest influences in his life.  He is passing down everything he’s learned from him over the years and adding his own character along the way.  More than seeing a kid that can drain a three-pointer, he sees young men who have potential not only on the court, but in life.
Embracing the challenges
Coach Kowalczyk is up for the challenge of turning around the University of Toledo men’s basketball program, and representing the school in a first-class, positive manner.  He’s excited about the team they’ve formed and the chemistry they have together. And although winning is wonderful, Kowalczyk knows it isn’t everything. The Rockets are slated to finish last in the conference again this year, but that doesn’t bother Kowalczyk.  He’s taken a team from the bottom to the top
before, and he’s sure with hard work and perseverance it can be done at
Toledo as well.