Todd Wojtkowski: A positive influence on future generations

Hometown: Cleveland Heights, OH

Here’s his background:

  • Who is he? Head Coach of the Men’s & Women’s tennis teams at Case Western Reserve
  • Stats on the teams: After 3 seasons, the Spartans have taken their Division III opponents by storm.  The men’s team earned their first-ever ITA national ranking in program history by finishing No. 19 in the national polls.  They also finished 5th in the competitive UAA and defeated 4 nationally ranked opponents. The women’s team also improved under Todd’s tutelage and now boast a No. 7-ranked singles player and a No. 14-ranked doubles team.

I met Todd through tennis.  I played in high school and decided to pick it up again about 4 years ago.  Todd happened to be the tennis pro at the racquet club I joined and we became friends. With his guidance, my forehand shot was completely transformed and became a formidable weapon on the courts. I won a bunch of USTA games with that forehand so the least I could do was write a blog about his story.

But it’s not the only reason why I wanted to share his story. Todd continues to influence many peoples lives with his passion, drive, and love for others. In a world where there’s a lot of uncertainty, scandals, and turmoil, we need people like Todd to help guide the future generations.

*****************************

Growing up in Youngstown Ohio, Todd didn’t exactly dream of becoming a tennis coach.

He wanted to be a math teacher and to live the American Dream. Good thing for his players (and for me) he decided that he didn’t want to be a math teacher half way through college.

A math teacher?

Yes!

I know what you’re all thinking, so how did he become a tennis coach?  Here’s his story.

{the JOY depot}: When you were little, what did you want to do?

Todd: I wanted to be a teacher and wanted to teach math.  It was a pretty natural subject for me.  I remember sitting in math class and no one knew what was going on.  It was really gratifying for me to be the one who got it and explain how to solve the problem.  There’s something inside of me that wants to make people better.  But halfway through college I realized I didn’t want to be a math teacher anymore.

{the JOY depot}: Why did you start playing tennis? And how did you start coaching?

Todd: When I was a kid, my parents put me in everything and I was pretty good at all of them.  But I was the best at tennis.  When I was 16, my coach taught me how to give lessons.  It was a really good feeling to give lessons at 15/16 years old to younger kids and beginner adults.  I had talents in coaching.

My parents got divorced and my tennis family became my second family.  It made me love the game even more.  My coach, Keith, took care of me and I became like their youngest family member.  That made me feel special.  I became even closer to Casey and Abby (Keith’s children) after Keith died in a car accident when I was 18.  His death made me want to do things to honor him right away.  I felt I needed to pass on the legacy and what I learned.

{the JOY depot}: So is this when you knew you wanted to continue coaching?

Todd: I didn’t plan on being in tennis.  Playing tennis helped me get a scholarship to college.  (Todd graduated from Ohio State and played on the tennis team.  He then went on to receive an MBA at The Citadel while being an assistant coach for the tennis team).

In Business School, I thought about going into sales, but the economy was bad and there weren’t many options.  At the time, I tried to figure out how to master things besides tennis.  I realized that coaching tennis is what I do best.  So I thought about ways to continue my education and coach. I interviewed at Case and got the job and have enjoyed the ride ever since. Now I can see myself doing this for awhile.  It’s very gratifying.  But I want to stay open so I don’t want to say it’s what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.  I’m very content right now.

{the JOY depot}: What do you like most about coaching?

Todd: My favorite thing is the ability to touch younger people who are navigating through life and trying to figure out what they are going to be.  It’s important to guide them, not like a parent, but help them with their life decisions.  My college coach was always making sure I didn’t make the wrong decisions and I want to do the same.

On the court, I teach them how to be the best and how to make good decisions, which will help them the rest of their life.

I like teaching life skills more than just the technical parts of tennis.  If you understand you are doing the right thing, work hard, and put in the extra time, you can achieve a lot and this can be applied to everything.  Ultimately, I want to make my players better people than when they came into my program.

{the JOY depot}: You clearly are making a difference in your student’s lives.  What do you want to be remembered for?

Todd: I want to be remembered for making people better at a given skill or skill set.  And as a result, making them better people for life.

{the JOY depot}: Do you have any tips for success you’d like to share with our readers?

Todd:  Be willing to do things that you know you should do even though you REALLY don’t want to do them.

{the JOY depot}: Last question, what brings you JOY?

Todd: I think that my joy comes in seeing other people happy.  I truly enjoy when people become better at tennis, or at life, as a result of some things we may have done together.  It seems simply however, my true joy comes in making others better.

About the JOY Coach

Minling Chuang

Minling is the founder of {the JOY depot} and is on a mission to help new entrepreneurs start their dream business. She spent many years working on branding strategies for top brands like Lean Cuisine & Nestle Toll House and launching multimillion dollar products. Now Minling's passion is to help people create profitable businesses they love! She is also a Kundalini Yoga teacher in Venice, CA. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. And if you want to start your own business, book a clarity session with Minling.

Read The Comments Or Add Yours