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January 27, 2022

FORMER TEACHER IS A FAMILIAR FACE AT ATHLETIC EVENTS

Anybody who attends Columbus cross country and track events might see a familiar face wearing a referee uniform – one of our former teachers, Paul Rozak.

Paul started his teaching career at Columbus Catholic in 1973 after graduating from UW-River Falls; and he was here until 1995 when he left to be Assistant Principal and Athletic Director at the Poynette School District. 

He started out his 23 year stint at Columbus with an interesting job interview!  “The UW-River Falls Placement Office – and myself! – didn’t know where Columbus High School was until twelve hours before it took place!” said Paul.  “My professor, Dr. Jensen, said ‘I think there’s a Columbus High School in Marshfield,’ and he was right!  Ever since then, I always put ‘Marshfield’ in front of ‘Columbus’ so it’s ‘Marshfield Columbus High School.’”

“I was fortunate to have many excellent teachers, coaches, and professors for my entire life,” continued Paul.  “Upon my arrival, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I was in the presence of a quality, dedicated faculty and I wanted to be ‘one of the many.’ Look, …I taught what I loved to teach and I hoped my students could recognize it when they saw it.”

Paul taught Speech I and II, English and Mass Media during his years at Columbus, and made many memories!  For example, one of the first things Coach Kroll did was take Paul around to the different golf courses; that is when Paul met Darrell Acker from the Marshfield Country Club (MCC) and two formed a friendship.  To this day Paul continues to volunteer at MCC cutting brush and trimming banks.  Paul also remembers how he was seldom called “Coach”… because there was only ONE coach at Columbus and that’s Coach Kroll!

“I couldn’t believe the classroom control that Sister Vincent had at the age of 80,” said Paul, “when she pushed her mobile classroom (a utility cart) into Room 25, with some of the same students I had earlier in the day!  She started with, ‘Would someone like to lead us in prayer?’ – and the hands were up, and the prayer delivered – by some students I wouldn’t have anticipated.”

“The CCS faculty and staff appeared to be all on one team,” continued Paul.  “Fr. Berger let me use his electric Smith Corona typewriter and he let me know that a granola bar was in his middle desk drawer and it was available to me if I needed a snack.  Coach Kroll insisted that I join the football coaching staff at Pizza Hut when they finished the pre-season two-a-day football practice. Mr. Orella could always be counted on to go the extra mile.  Mr. Zimmerman embraced girl’s athletics before it was popular, making sure the pep band would be playing for our home girls basketball games.  Mr. Birchler opened his tech ed shop (and offered advise) anytime something needed to be repaired, and I could always count on Mrs. Nugent (and her husband Bill) to help out:  with recording the cross-country finish line runners, with Project Graduation, and for the use of the laundry equipment to wash uniforms.”

Before leaving Columbus in 1995, Paul was interim Athletic Director when Coach Kroll passed away.  At the end of that school year he left for Poynette; and ended his career as Principal at Stratford Middle/High School for 14 years until retiring June 30, 2012. 

Today he says “I am enjoying good health.  I look forward to officiating cross country (fall) and track (spring).  I also help out running the clock during the football season and will line judge for some volleyball matches.  Yes, I spend a great deal of time on the golf course, riding motorcycle(s), working Stratford Lions Club events, and doing chores around the house and neighborhood.” 

“Principal Fr. Grevatch told me in my first year of teaching, that ‘Values are caught, but seldom taught’ and our students appear to have caught that team work ethic,” said Paul.  “One of the first observations I see in our graduates today is their willingness to pitch in and help.  Jim Nystrom ‘86 has been helping to organize the Marshfield Columbus Cross Country Invitational for years.  His work - along with coach Danielle Wojcik ‘99 - surpass my expectations.  When officiating track meets over the years, I can always count on Jackie (nee Draxler ‘84) Walker, Keith Pugh ‘92, Wayne Zygarlicke ‘76, and others attending the meet to help set the hurdles or address any other need(s).  This past fall at the Sectional Cross-Country meet, I was trying to get fans to move outside the boundary lines in a tight opening for the runners during the race.  From out of nowhere, a booming voice from behind me came, ‘You listen to this man – he knows what he is talking about!’  I was surprised the fans responded and I was shocked to see it was the voice of Tom Bores ‘91 – and we all had a good laugh!”

“I would like to thank Joe Baierl ‘82 for his ‘post’ and picture last fall at the cross-country invitational on Facebook,” said Paul.  “I became emotional and it brought smiles to my face.  But - let’s just say the officiating jacket appears to make me look larger than I really am.  So, when I asked Tom Bores if the officiating jacket makes me look fat, he looked… paused… and then said, ‘Mr. Rozak, it’s not the jacket!!!’”

Paul ended with this message “my detailed outline for this article contains many former students, faculty and staff names that I would have loved to mention. Please know that doing this article brought back many fond memories – ‘not mentioned’ but remembered.  Thank you for making my time at Marshfield Columbus Catholic High School so unforgettable.  All of the best! – Rozak”