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Kalizewski puts family first

Mark Hazelwood • Updated Feb 19, 2018 at 9:50 PM

NORWALK — Angie Kalizewski is the first to admit it — the reality of the situation surprised her.

In eight seasons as Norwalk volleyball coach, her team won a league title each year, and four times was among the final eight teams in the state in Division II.

But as a third-grade teacher at Pleasant Street Elementary, it finally hit her after the 2017 volleyball season ended.

“I didn’t plan it at all,” Kalizewski said of her sudden resignation as coach on Thursday. “It wasn’t until I kind of realized two of my kids are in the grade I teach. You just don’t realize how old they get and how quick it happens — and in that moment it all started to click in.”

Kalizewski and her husband, Aaron, have three kids. Twins Isaac and Ella are in the third grade at Norwalk Catholic Schools, while youngest daughter Aria will turn six next month.

“We’re less than two years away from playing sports at the school level, maybe a year away from JO (Junior Olympic) volleyball if we go that route,” Kalizewski said. “This was the first year I’ve missed out on some things.

“I couldn’t make it to some events in my own program at the younger level as it was, so it all just kind of hit me,” she added. “It starts to open your eyes as to what’s coming quickly.”

Kalizewski said stepping down was nothing she had considered prior to the end of the season. The decision to eventually quit went right down to the final minute. Her family had made a checklist of the positives and negatives, and made arguments for each side.

But ultimately, Kalizewski decided she couldn’t continue to coach the way she had while balancing the time commitment with her three kids and their extra-curricular activities.

“It’s not like it was a lot of work or really hard for me to be there,” she said. “But the way I believe I need to be when I coach, I have to be present. Some people split time, come in halfway through a freshman or JV game if they are able to see own kids — which I think is great if they’re at the same school and everyone is OK with it and you can do that.

“But I feel like I need to be there, and wouldn’t feel like I’m giving 100 percent to my program,” Kalizewski added. “That tears me up, but I have to be there for my family and my kids first. I don’t want them to have to share me until they are gone or done. If an opportunity would arise, I’m not saying I’m done coaching. That’s not where I’m at. But I’m putting everything on hold until I feel it’s appropriate for my family again.”

A 2003 St. Paul graduate, Kalizewski kept the Norwalk program at an elite level following the 552-win coaching career of Grace Hutchinson (1978-2009).

Kalizewski’s teams compiled a 169-45 record overall, good for an average season of 21-6. Her teams won the Northern Ohio League title in each of her first seven seasons, and won the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake division in the school’s first year as a member of the SBC.

In fact, Norwalk went 91-3 in NOL/SBC play in her eight seasons as coach, which included a 76-match league win streak that was snapped this past season.

Norwalk also advanced to the regional championship match in three seasons under Kalizewski. It reached the state championship match in Division II during the 2012 season, falling in five games to Cleveland Beaumont in the finals to finish 27-3.

Norwalk fell to Parma Padua Fransican in the regional title match in the 2014 and 2016 seasons as well.

This past season, Norwalk played with three seniors among its regular lineup, finishing with a 17-9 overall record, a 10-2 Lake division record — and a district runners-up trophy.

As a player, Kalizewski (Camp) won a state championship as a player at St. Paul in 2002. A two-time All-Ohio first team selection at St. Paul, she was also inducted into the Baldwin-Wallace University Athletic Hall of Fame in October 2017. She was a two-time All-American selection in her two seasons for the Yellow Jackets.

“We don’t regret one bit of it,” she said. “It’s been a blast and it has been challenging. But that challenge of meeting that goal every year, wanting to get back to same spot, was something I enjoyed as a super-competitive person. I was big with our teams that you start everything small, every year.

“If you don’t start small, you never achieve anything,” Kalizewski added. “The challenge of that was there every year, and that’s what I thrived on. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ll never forget the memories and the trips together. There were a lot of memories we made — and I loved it all.”

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Kalizewski at a glance

The Norwalk volleyball program went 169-45 overall and 91-3 in league matches in eight seasons under Angie Kalizewski, who resigned on Feb. 15:

2010: 19-7, 13-1

2011: 22-4, 10-0

2012: 27-3, 10-0 (state runners-up)

2013: 21-4. 12-0

2014: 23-5, 12-0 (regional runners-up)

2015: 19-7, 12-0

2016: 21-6, 12-0 (regional runners-up)

2017: 17-9, 10-2

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