Leonard Zdanowicz has been named the new head coach of the Brick Dragons football team, following a decision by the township Board of Education Thursday night.
Zdanowicz will take over the team in the 2015-16 school year from Rob Dahl, who resigned his position in order to spend more time with his family after leading the team since being named head coach in 2011.
Zdanowicz, like Dahl before him, has close ties to legendary former head coach Warren Wolf, who led the team for 51 seasons.
“I’m just so honored to get this job,” said Zdanowicz, after the board voted unanimously to appoint him to the position. He was supported at the meeting by numerous players and parents, some of whom came to the microphone at the board meeting to heap praises upon a man they described as being more than just a coach.
“My son has played for Lenny for the past few years, and he didn’t leave that field without a handshake every night,” said Gina Hickman. “He taught them manners and to be good young men. All the parents are friends, all the kids are friends, and that was all under Lenny’s direction.”
Zdanowicz, in addition to his assistant coaching duties in Brick, headed youth football teams outside of the school district. He addressed his players at the meeting Thursday night.
“I just want to give you guys every ounce of energy I have, and to give to you guys the great sense of character I got through this program,” Zdanowicz said, a nod to Wolf and the program’s history. “I also want to bring home a championship for the Dragons.”
Zdanowicz was Wolf’s choice as the coach who should have succeeded him following his retirement. The board that was in place in 2009 appointed Patrick Dowling, who had no ties to Brick, to the position and hired him as a schoolteacher instead of honoring Wolf’s wishes and the wishes of many vocal community members who called for a Brick coach to be elevated to the head position. Dowling largely floundered as coach, was dismissed from that position and was ultimately non-tenured from his teaching position when a new board of education majority – which included Wolf himself – was elected.
Dahl, who – like Zdanowicz – played for Wolf, took over in 2011 and led the Dragons to the NJSIAA Central Group IV championship in 2013 and the Shore Conference Class A south championship this past season. Zdanowicz will earn an $8,625 stipend as head coach.