If you happen to be walking through the athletic center on a Wednesday afternoon, you’re likely to hear laughter coming from down the hallway, emanating from an unlikely hub of activity: the athletic stockroom. A small crowd of students is seemingly always present around the stockroom window, deep in conversation with the new Athletic Stockroom Coordinator Cathy Markowski.
Ms. Markowski came to Deerfield at the beginning of this year. To most, she is the friendly face that provides uniforms and equipment for every game, match, or practice. Those who get to know her better discover her deep passion for athletics that stems from her wealth of experience as an athlete and a coach.
Ms. Markowski discovered her love for coaching at 17 years old when she was offered a position at Greenfield Middle School to coach basketball and softball. At the time, she was a freshman in college at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
“I was very young,” Ms. Markowski said. “I thought I wanted to work in the hotel industry. That’s what I went to school for.”
Ms. Markowski played volleyball at UMass and quickly became enthralled with the art of coaching and pushing athletes to improve.
“Coaching is honestly what I love. I like seeing people start at the beginning and then actually reach their potential; it’s just an amazing sight,” Ms. Markowski said.
In the ensuing years, Ms. Markowski landed jobs as head volleyball coach at Elms College and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She also coached Deerfield’s varsity volleyball team from 2008 to 2011. Just last year, she led the volleyball team at Loomis Chaffee to a NEPSAC Class A championship.
When asked what she most values as a coach, Ms. Markowski responded with “consistency,” and “having athletes willing to go that extra mile whether they want to or not.”
She said, “I’ve felt that myself and I’ve seen athletes get to that pinnacle, and it’s priceless.”
Ms. Markowski’s own coaches played a major role in her journey towards a career in athletics. She said she had two outstanding coaches in high school for volleyball and for softball.
“They just welcomed us right into their homes and their families,” Ms. Markowski said. “That has always stuck with me.”
Ms. Markowski emphasized her belief that a coach holds a uniquely influential position with a team of adolescents, which is why she has always enjoyed coaching teenagers.
In contrast, Ms. Markowski mentioned that her college coaches were directly the opposite. She called their style of coaching “brutal,” teaching her what kind of coach she did not want to be.
Now, back as Stockroom Coordinator at Deerfield, Ms. Markowski spends time getting to know many of the student-athletes.
Norm Therien, Deerfield’s Athletic Stockroom Coordinator who has worked at Deerfield for 46 years, said, “She’s so good with the student body, and she does a great job with the teams… When I heard she had applied, I was very much for her being part of this department.”
Students at Deerfield are constantly amazed how after hours of hard work managing equipment and uniforms all week, Ms. Markowski still manages to remember their team, size, and number to make game days run smoothly.
“She’s like my advisor,” Morgan Moriarty ’22 said. “I can come talk to her about anything and she’ll listen.”
Moriarty spent many hours talking to Ms. Markowski after being assigned to the athletic storeroom for community service through the Deerfield Academy Perspectives Program, commonly referred to as “DAPP”.
Ms. Markowski said that she felt she could relate to student-athletes in particular, having been one herself.
“I’m just happy to be back,” she said.
Ms. Markowski grew up in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. Faithful to New England, her family has turned down three separate job offers to move to the West, deciding instead to stay in Feeding Hills, MA with her son going to Eaglebrook.
During her time at Deerfield, Ms. Markowski has touched many lives. Moriarty, a varsity athlete, said, “She always says ‘Keep your head up, you’ll get through the season,’ because I have this shoulder injury that’s been acting up … I have no words for how grateful I am for her.”