People of Georgian: Analyst has ‘life-changing experience’ as running coach

Dec. 9, 2022

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People of Georgian: Meet Tony Podziemski

Running is the world’s greatest antidepressant.

I’m just on a high whenever I run and after the run.

I’ve always just run casually, and I’m still a runner, but, you know, at my age I don’t run very well.

The fact that I can keep doing these things even at my age feels pretty good inside. It keeps me going.

A group of people stand together for a photo with a banner behind them reading Cross Country Running Championship.
Tony, third from the left, was a cross-country running coach at Georgian.

Turning an interest in coaching

Years ago, we had a great running coach at Georgian, the late Nigel Ward Page, and he pulled me in to help coach, just like he pulled in a lot of other people, too.

When he became ill, I took the lead role for a couple years.

We ended up with a small team of coaches to run the male and female varsity cross-country teams, and we did that for about five years.

I met some great people at that time, and we got to travel to different campuses throughout the province as well for events.

Coaching was a life-changing experience for me.

I was also a teacher for years, but going into the formal classroom structure, students and faculty followed a set of rules.

There wasn’t a set of rules when students needed personal support. Sometimes they would approach you just because they’re having a bad day or something like that, and you needed to be ready for that.

You need to calm them down and get them focused; get them back on track and keep going.

You’d be on a bus that was hauling us between here and Kingston, or here and Windsor. So you really have to stay connected to all of your athletes, and at one point we had over 20 athletes.

A person wearing sunglasses, blue sweater and tan pants, stands in the aisle between seats on a bus.

Helping lost students find their way on and off the track

It’s funny how usually I’m that quiet guy in the corner working away and sending out emails, but when I have the coach’s hat on or the teacher’s hat on, I’m a more communicative guy who can open up pretty easily.

I feel huge pride when my students and athletes have graduated.

To be honest, I have wiped away tears a few times because there are some students who really just came to Georgian and were kind of lost, they really didn’t know what direction they were going. So if I could even play a small part in getting them on track, that means a lot to me.

Four rows of people sit in a lecture hall and smile for a photo.
A Research Analyst class in 1992. Tony Podziemski is in the back row, second from right.
A person with short hair, sunglasses and a white, collared shirt, and a person with short, blonde hair, glasses and a floral top smile in a selfie.
Tony has worked at Georgian College for 35 years.

‘I’m just so happy to still be part of the college’

I remember some runners who really didn’t even think they could run, they just thought they’d come out and try it, and they ended up being pretty decent runners.

Likewise, some students would come into an academic program, realizing they found the material very interesting, and then ending up doing extremely well.

That’s always really exciting to see.

I’m just so happy to still be part of the college after all these years.

Tony Podziemski, alumnus of Georgian’s Social Research program (Class of 1986; now the Research Analyst program) and current Integrated Process and Implement Analyst in the Office of the Registrar. Tony has worked at Georgian College for 35 years.

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