Brand new to the girls varsity volleyball coaching staff is Dan Jurkowski. Jurkowski graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in sports management. He plans to make the move to Malden in November of this year. Beginning his first year as a paraprofessional in the multi-handicapped room at the Salemwood School, Jurkowski eventually hopes to teach at Malden High School in the school’s history department. His love of teaching and his passion for sports account for his skillful coaching abilities.
While attending high school, Jurkowski played four years of basketball along with three years of both soccer and volleyball. In college he participated in intramural sports and has played in several men’s volleyball leagues post graduation.
Jurkowski began his coaching career at Westfield State University as a basketball coach. While coaching at Westfield State, he coincidentally met another one of MHS’ coaches, Don Nally, the current head coach for MHS’ varsity basketball team. At that time, Nally was looking for an assistant coach for the basketball team and Jurkowski qualified for the position. Last season Jurkowski was able to begin his tenure as a Malden coach, assisting in coach the boys basketball team. He hopes to continue to coach basketball not only this year, but for years to come as well. Jurkowski has also helped coach the outdoor track team where he worked with the jumpers.
The girls varsity volleyball team will be the first all girls team that Jurkowski has coached. Jurkowski has had a positive impact on the team and the players. The players are in agreement that they feel lucky to have a capable coach. Senior Sabrina Harrath stated that he "has been a good fit for the team." According to Jurkowski, his goals are very high for the team this year, considering the amount of seniors and returning players.
Having a new coach was intimidating to all the girls at first, but they soon became comfortable with the new addition to the team. He is very team orientated and listens to each player’s input and concerns. He helps players individually when they are struggling with something, as well as teaching new strategies to help them during games. Senior Victoria Tortora explained that Jurkowski “simply tells [them] that if [they] want to win then [they] have to go out there and win for [themselves].”
“[Jurkowski] is probably the complete opposite of [their] old coach, Matthew Sadowski,” admitted senior captain Brianna Grant. Sadowski had played volleyball for majority of his life that resulted in practices focused on conditioning and defensive drills. In contrast, Jurkowski is mainly focused on improving skills. The balance between concentration and leniency that Jurkowski brings to the table was just what the team needed. His “style of coaching has motivated [the] team to find it within [themselves] to make smart plays and work together in order to win or at least be on a competitive level with the teams [they] play,” added Grant.
Last year, the team tied with Medford for the Greater Boston League title. They also were able to win a match at the North Division 1 Sectionals of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Tournament. This year, the team plans to build off of the successes of last year in working to win the GBL title once more along with hopes of progressing further in the tournament.
The team has been preparing for the season having had captain practices for months prior to the school year. Jurkowski described the players as being “on pace for their goals,” as they are currently 2-0 in the GBL, and 5-1 overall so far in the season.
Each year the team wins even more games than the years before and having multiple girls on the team who have been in the program for years allows Jurkowski to believe that the girls will win the most games yet in their high school careers thus far.