PULASKI — Jim Karcz is itching to kick off his first fall sports season as the athletic director and assistant high school principal for the Pulaski Central School District, and excited to share his 20 years of experience in coaching and teaching with the Blue Devils.
Karcz was approved by the district’s board of education earlier this year and started full-time on July 1. He replaced former athletic director Jeff Shirley, who retired as an administrator and physical education teacher this past June.
Karcz, who played men’s basketball for Division III Springfield College, worked as an assistant college basketball coach before moving to the area, and has spent much of the past 17 years working a variety of roles in the Syracuse City School District. Karcz said that he is excited to be starting his first full-time position as an athletic coordinator.
“This became my first opportunity here and actually was the best fit I could find for me as far a dual role and the environment that I was looking for,” Karcz said.
“You have tradition, and ultimately you have amazing people here,” he added. “They seem to have a really nice school structure and great relationships. I had a great feel sitting down with (superintendent Tom Jennings) as far as looking to the future and having shared goals, just being in service for the community and trying to ultimately offer as much as we can to the community and to athletics.”
Karcz majored in sports management while playing basketball for the Pride, and started his professional career as a basketball operations intern for the then-New Jersey Nets of the NBA.
He then became an assistant basketball coach for three different programs in North Carolina — University of NC-Charlotte, Pfieffer University, and Catawba College — before moving to the area with his wife, Rebecca, who is a Union Springs native and works as a kindergarten teacher in that district.
Karcz has worked as an interim vice principal, assistant athletic coordinator, and also held several supervisory, teaching, and coaching positions in the Syracuse district.
“It was a great opportunity to learn from great coaches and learn in great programs, and to be able to take those learning moments and try to put them in other pieces of my life,” Karcz said of his early coaching experiences. “I’ve been able to transfer those into everything I’ve done. That higher level coaching has all played a part in ways that I handle myself and ways that I’ve been successful in athletic administration so far.”
Karcz was selected as the top candidate following a large-reaching and thorough screening process, according to Pulaski superintendent Tom Jennings, and approved by the board of education based on the recommendation of a hiring committee that included several district administrators.
Jennings said that Karcz’s experience level and personality each stood out during the hiring process, and that he believes Karcz is someone that athletes in the district will want to work hard for.
“We were looking for someone who loves kids, is excited about athletics, has a vision for what an athletics program ought to be, and (Karcz) was definitely that person,” Jennings said.
“I appreciate his ability to work in the details but also understand the big picture,” he added. “His vision for what athletics should be in the school district is spot on for Pulaski.”
Karcz said that he has enjoyed his initial interactions with Pulaski coaches and other colleagues since accepting the position, and is looking forward to the start of classes and the opportunity to build connections with the students and athletes.
“The people are fantastic,” Karcz said. “The foundation that they have here of just, people are genuine and they have love for their school and love for their community. I’ve always been a huge advocate for being part of something that’s bigger than yourself, and my first impression is that this is a place for me to be part of something bigger myself, and be able to help with something that’s going to be pretty special, ultimately down the line, make it as special as possible.”
Karcz is the father of two boys and a girl — ages 12, 11, and 7 — who attend school in the Jordan-Elbridge district and are active in sports and music.
Practices for varsity fall sports started last Monday and games for most varsity sports are set to begin throughout next week.