Sara Palodichuk prepares to be the new activities director at East Ridge
It was always the dream.
It was always the hope.
And now, it's the reality for Sara Palodichuk.
"I've always wanted to be an athletic/activities director," Palodichuk said. "I couldn't be more excited that I get to achieve this dream with East Ridge High School."
After Joel Olson became the new Northfield High School activities director a couple weeks ago, the Raptors were looking for a new activities director and found Palodichuk. The former Middleton Elementary School principal will relieve her duties as principal and start to focus on her new job as a Raptor.
Athletics and activities have been in Palodichuk's life ever since a young age. She became a gymnast early in her life and it became her primary sport throughout her childhood.
Palodichuk was a gymnast for Park High School and was getting recruited by colleges for athletic ability, but after an injury in her senior year those offers slowly faded away. She was able to receive an offer from Winona State and competed on the bars and beam for them.
After her college career, she decided to continue the sport as a coach and official. She started coaching gymnastics as well as volleyball and track and field at various high schools.
Palodichuk came back to the South Washington County School District as an assistant gymnastics coach at Park High School and helped the Wolfpack win a state title. That year was also the first year current Park activities director, Phil Kuemmel, took the position for the Wolfpack.
"Sara and I have had a good relationship and friendship for a number of years," Kuemmel said. "She's been in a lot of different positions, but I'm excited to have her in the activities director group for this district."
Kuemmel understands the stress of coming into a position like the activities director, so he's been trying to help out as much as possible. He wants Palodichuk to try first, but if there's questions or concerns about different topics he's always around to give a helping hand.
"Phil has been amazing in this process and I can't thank him enough for all of his help," Palodichuk said. "I'm slowly getting more and more familiar, but it's great to have someone like him to always be there if needed."
Palodichuk will be facing a first in her life. Throughout the majority of her career, she's been on the administrative side, so making the switch to athletics and activities will be a new role for her.
She's excited to get started and already has been taking some steps by inviting the coaches of the school to come over and talk more about their teams. Palodichuk wants to put faces with names and also understand how she can help specific teams with either expenses or supplies or even people.
Her background is from more of a communication standpoint, so one of her goals that she gave in her interview process is to continue building relationships with different people in the athletics and activities sides.
Whether it's the coaches, players, parents, students, booster clubs or even the other schools in the conference, she wants to keep that open communication to each individual. She wants her office and her presence to be perceived as a person to talk with regarding concerns or even praise as well.
"I truly believe the more we communicate as a department, the more relationships and friendships will be built," Palodichuk said. "I'm hoping to start that goal right now and keep it going throughout my time at East Ridge High School."
Besides the communication goal, she hopes that each activity in the Raptors community does well and has fun during the season. She hopes these athletes understand the learning and fun aspects of the game as well as evening those activities with schoolwork and keeping those grade point averages up like this past year.
Palodichuk said she's the type of person that will be out at the events and cheering on the Raptors whether it's a football game or robotics event or one act play. She wants to be at everything and understands she won't be able to, but she's excited to see the different teams and their excellence in each activity.
"I'm so proud to be the East Ridge activities director and I can't wait to get to know this community," Palodichuk said.
She might be at the games or matches or events.
She might be at her office.
She might also be with her own family.
It doesn't matter where she is because in the end, Palodichuk is officially a Raptor.