John Dzik

Letters Sent by Alums and Friends: 
Letters Main > Mike Dever, Class of 1996

Antoinette Iadarola
President Cabrini College
610 King of Prussia Road
Radnor, PA 19807

February 4, 2005

Dear Dr. Iadarola

At the end of the beloved Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, the angel Clarence gives George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart’s character) a book with an inscription that reads “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends”. By that measure I know of no one who has achieved more success in their life than Coach Dzik.

I’ll go one further, any man who makes his life’s work making his friends feel part of a greater community, a greater family, achieves something more than success. He achieves love, respect, honor, and total and complete friendship from those that know him. And to know John Dzik is to love him. This is a testament to his life’s work at Cabrini College. We all love our family and friends and cherish them, but because of Coach we also have our Cabrini family. I know I’m not alone when I say that I am honored to be part of this greater community and to call him my friend.

He is the father and patriarch of a larger brotherhood of current and former players, their families, coaches, alumni, fans, scorekeepers, trainers, and anyone who supported the Athletic Department at Cabrini College. This extended family is not limited to the Basketball Program. He touched the lives of athletes in every sport at Cabrini.

I was a student-athlete at Cabrini from 1992-1996, playing on 4 consecutive PAC Championship teams under the direction of our coach, mentor, friend, and leader, John Dzik. This truly wonderful experience included 3 berths to the Division III National Tournament. Our success was born and bred from his vision, his unwavering focus on the principles of teamwork. I carry his lessons with me to this day and will continue to hold them dear and attempt to pass them along to others for as long as I live.

To this day he is the greatest motivator I have ever met. In business or athletics, if you asked me who I would want to play for, who I would want leading a team, my answer is John Dzik. He made us proud to play for Cabrini College. When you wore that Cabrini jersey he made you aware of the legacy of players and teams that had graced our court before you. He would not allow us to disgrace their hard work and dedication to excellence by giving anything less than 100% of ourselves.

I also played on the golf team for Coach Dzik for 3 years. Learning one of my life’s passions from him is one of the great memories of my life. I can’t wait until the next time we play together. I know he’ll teach me something new.

College can be a difficult time, being away from home for the first time and all. Coach helped me through this time of my life. He acted as a father figure to me. When I did well he was there to pat me on the back. When I messed up he was there to admonish. Most importantly, though, when I needed someone to talk to, his door was always open. He was there for me. Sometimes there is nothing more that we can do for one another than listen.

I was truly inspired in reading the letters of alumni, former players, parents of Cabrini students, and former colleagues of Coach Dzik. I implore you to read these letters and after you read them, read them again. They are pure love.

If you knew nothing about John Dzik and you read these letters, what conclusion would you draw?

My initial reaction to your decision was to write a scathing letter of disapproval, but from careful contemplation and in falling back on the lessons learned from my dear friend and greatest teacher, Coach Dzik, I do not wish to persecute you for your decision not to extend his contract. These letters have already done that. The truth is undeniable. The truth always finds its way to the surface. I hope and pray that you will see the truth of this situation.

From your decision, the only conclusion that I can draw is that you do not value athletics and the core values of teamwork in the same breath as those lessons learned in the classroom. Forgive me for being so presumptuous, but it is ironic that some of your most successful alumni are former players and athletes under Coach Dzik’s tenure.

This smells of a personal vendetta. Your request that Coach use vacation time for his duties as “Special Assistant to the president for Athletic Advancement” for those business hours missed because of coaching or recruiting is inherently contradictory, irrational, and strategically provocative and incendiary. If your vocabulary is a bit rusty, this means I’m saying you intentionally created this policy with the specific intent of running Coach out of your institution. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Oscar Wilde once said, “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes”. I implore you to please learn from your experience. Please rectify this mistake. You would be applauded and championed with the same ferocity and passion that you have seen from Coach’s friends and family in defending him.

Sincerely yours,

Mike Dever, Class of ‘96’