Paul Jarzynka

Episode 102

11 JAN 2021

The new head men’s tennis coach at Eastern Illinois University after having been assistant men’s and women’s tennis coach at Belmont Abbey College.  Previously he had been a volunteer assistant coach at Wright State University while also teaching professionally at a tennis club. He also taught professionally at the Michigan State Indoor Tennis Center, was an assistant varsity tennis coach at Lansing Catholic School, and was an instructor at Michigan State Nike Tennis Camps, all after having played collegiate tennis at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Guest quotes:

“I’m originally from Jackson, Michigan… Born and raised Catholic, grew up going to Queen of the Miraculous Medal parish… I think my parents did a really good job raising us with the faith… My mom always had a weekly holy hour, Eucharistic adoration… We would pray the rosary as a family.”

“I chose tennis because, it was, the final exam for, like, freshman Lit(erature) class, we had to pick a poem and, I don’t know, I just randomly flipped to a page and I read, by Robert Frost, ‘The Road Not Taken,’ and that one just really spoke to me… and you look back and that’s God working through that moment and that text.”

“In high school I was really, really involved with different campus ministry things, like leading retreats, led a couple Kairos retreats.  We had a sophomore retreat we put on called Tenui.  The high school I went to was a Catholic high school run by the oblates of St. Francis de Sales… We had a men’s group that was awesome, my junior and senior year.  We were talking about different things as a guy you’re kind of going through in high school and spinning it more into the Catholic light.  I still, things that we talked about and things that we did then, they still kind of come out in my everyday life.”

“You can be successful in whatever field you’re in and also be a really faithful person and fuse those and mix those together.”

“I consciously was like, sports and virtue and faith, like, the world is telling us that those don’t go together, but… at Franciscan (University), it really does go together.  In fact, it has to go together, because if it doesn’t, it’s not going to work here.”

“In the eyes of people in high school I had a really vibrant faith, and I was really involved in all these retreats.  It’s like, immediately, I should be a priest.  Which, that could’ve been a great calling for me too.”

“It was really clear from God that Franciscan (University) was the place.  That’s where He was calling me to be.”

“I think sometimes people think that, faith-wise, you can’t always use your sport… as a place that (you) can really evangelize.  And I think that’s kind of an old school misconception from people.”

“You have to be dependent on God and dependent on Him in the process.”

“We’re coming to this, we’re making this jump (moving to Illinois) because we really felt like this is what God was calling us to do.  And different things fall in place and it’s not just chance, it’s not just coincidence, I mean, this is clearly what God wants us to do.  And I think too, you pray for certain things… and He answers, and I think in a lot of ways this is an answer to our prayers… It’s exactly what we’ve really been praying for.”

“My coaching moves, our moves together as a family, God and His Will for us is at the absolute center of it.”

“As long as you’re focused on God and He’s the center of your life, you know it’s going to be great.  It’s going to be okay.”

Related link:

Paul’s bio on Eastern Illinois University website

(This episode contains a prayer from the South Bend Indiana Inner-City Catholic League, as seen in Play Like A Champion Today’s prayerbook for sports, God, Be In My Sport)