PRINCETON: Dzbenski comfortable in new role at PHS

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After serving in the role on an interim basis

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
Brian Dzbenski has been a fixture around the Princeton schools for nearly two decades as a teacher, coach and administrator., He’s been at both John Witherspoon Middle School and Princeton High School over that time and now in his latest role with lead the athletic department the Supervisor of Physical Education/Health and Athletic Director., Dzbenski has been in the position on an interim basis since the passing of former Athletic Director John Miranda. He was recently named to the position on a permanent basis., “I am really following my passion,” said Dzbenski, who grew up in Hamilton and attended Notre Dame High School. “I am fortunate to be in a place like Princeton where I have that kind of support from our superintendent, Steve Cochrane, and the building administration at the high school and at the middle school. It’s a good place to be. I am in a good place right now. I am real happy about it.”, Dzbenski was supervising athletics at the middle school when he was asked to take on the interim role at the high school as well., “(Athletic secretary Kathy Herzog) was out due to illness and then John got sick,” Dzbenski said. “In February they needed to someone to step up and I was asked to do the high school program and the middle school program. I was fortunate because I had the experience and I had worked closely with John and Kathy. I knew the middle school in and out and I learned what was going on at the high school. I was there for the referendums. I kind of had a good grasp on everything., “I have been fortunate that Kathy Herzog has been able to recover from her illness and come back. She has been instrumental in the change and has been willing to learn the new athletic scheduler as well. She has been instrumental in the success we have had this year.”, Dzbenski grew up in the area and has been a Mercer County guy all his life. He played soccer at Notre Dame under legendary coach Steve Perone and then went on to play at Seton Hall University. After brief stints teaching first-time offenders for the State Department and a year at South Brunswick, he landed in Princeton and has been witb the district for the past 18 years., “I have done athletics all my life,” Dzbenski said. “I came to Princeton right after I was at South Brunswick and I worked with Wayne Sutcliffe and Carlos Salazar and coached high school soccer for five years. I remember Wayne helping me write my first parent letter. As the freshman coach I worked a lot with the JV team. After five years I went back and got my masters.”, Eventually, Dzbenski took took over as the head of the middle school athletic program, where he was part of a process to change the direction of the program., “I loved it and enjoyed working with the kids at the middle school level,” Dzbenski said. “We took that program from one with a no-cut policy that only met two days a week to a five-day a week policy with a full schedule. So we made a lot of strides with the program at the middle school level. I felt like we did a lot of good things there with the program.”, For the last several years, Dzbenski taught at the high school while being the middle school athletic director. He thoroughly enjoyed being able to see the student-athletes grow from learning the sport at the middle school level to being top-notch athletes at the varsity level., “I had an opportunity where I could run the middle school program and still work at the high school,” Dzbenski said. “It was great seeing the kids when they were older. There was a lot of support when they saw me over there and then I had the same appreciation when I went back over to the middle school after the school day was over., “I knew all the faces. I knew all the people at the board office when it comes to purchasing and transportation. I knew the routines and the paperwork. I knew how to get people in the right positions for coaching. It worked out well. It was a good fit. I was at the right point in my career where I was ready to move on.”, Dzbenski has been part of some changes to the athletic program over the past year and would like to see more come to the department as he moves into the role on a full-time basis., “We have had a lot of new initiatives in the school this year,” Dzbenski said. “We started Option 2 this year as a pilot program. It’s a program where students get out of the responsibilities for physical education class to do their studies. They do other things to qualify for those credits. We transitioned over to a whole new website and a new athletic scheduling system., “I like technology and I love enhancing it. We’re getting up to speed with it. We’ll be switching over to an on-line registration system this fall which will simplify things for our parents. We’re trying to get on the cutting edge of everything.”