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Beloved Cabrini athletic director set to retire after 15 years of service PHOTOS

  • Cabrini High School Athletic Director Tim Kluka worked tirelessly to ensure that the school’s fields were always in the best shape possible. Photo by Frank Wladyslawski
  • As the athletic director at Cabrini High School, Tim Kluka could be spotted at nearly every Monarchs’ game, match or meet since taking over the job in 1999. Photo by Frank Wladyslawski
  • Cabrini High School Athletic Director Tim Kluka worked tirelessly to ensure that the school’s fields were always in the best shape possible. Photo by Frank Wladyslawski
  • Cabrini High School Athletic Director Tim Kluka worked tirelessly to ensure that the school’s fields were always in the best shape possible. Photo by Frank Wladyslawski
Referred to around the halls of Cabrini High School simply as “TK,” Tim Kluka earned the respect of administration, students, parents and the community during his tenure as athletic director.

This all according to Debbie Norman, decorated Monarchs’ softball coach and predecessor to Kluka, who will retire at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

“No one is going to be able to fill his shoes at Cabrini, literally and figuratively speaking; he’s a size 15,” Norman joked.

In the fall of 1973 Kluka worked at Cabrini for three years before leaving to work in the foster care and adoption industry for nearly 15 years. He returned to Cabrini High School in 1992 and was eventually appointed athletic director in 1999.

“Tim is the most honest, forthright, hard working and honest man I have ever met,” said Father Joe, the pastor at Cabrini Parish. “Cabrini would not be where we’re at - not just in regards of championships - we wouldn’t be where we’re at in terms of integrity without him.”

Kluka recalls the federal lawsuit lost by the MHSAA in the mid-2000’s - a lawsuit that went to the Supreme Court twice, in which some girls’ sports schedules were switched to different seasons of the year - as his biggest obstacle during his time as AD.

“Participation in sports started to dwindle after that, especially girls sports,” Kluka said. “In a sense of trying to adjust to those changes, where so many sports were switched around, you couldn’t make everyone happy.

“We were fortunate because we didn’t lose coaches while a lot of schools did,” he said. “But the biggest thing at that point was keeping a positive attitude because a lot of folks were very disgruntled about it all. So I tried to keep the participation up and make the adjustments for rescheduling optimal for everyone involved.”

While Kluka did work hard to please everyone he could, like in the case of the MHSAA lawsuit fallout, he stressed that his number one priority was doing what was best for the kids.

“It doesn’t always look like all of our decisions were based on what was best for the kids, in the parents’ eyes,” Kluka said. “But we always looked at making sure the kids were learning and having fun and the coaches were keeping the discipline.”

Some things transcended athletics, however, according to Kluka.

“The whole aspect of educational athletics was always big to me and to the school,” Kluka said. “Everyone wants a winner; there’s no question about that. But we felt kids needed to learn how to win and lose with class.”

Kluka’s said he relied on dedicated, loyal coaches at Cabrini to make his job easier and credited them for much of the success Cabrini has had in various sports.

“The dedication of our coaches has been amazing during my time here,” Kluka said. “What our coaches do, even with a low pay scale, as far as their dedication to the kids and helping them throughout the whole year has been something incredible to watch. You can’t run a good program without dedicated coaches.”

In return, Norman, one of those dedicated coaches, said that Kluka has made her job easier and more enjoyable during his tenure as athletic director.

“I have learned that you need to be a good listener and he always puts time to talk and spend with anyone who walks in his office, no matter how much work he has sitting on his desk,” Norman said. “It is going to take a group of personnel to do what he has done here at Cabrini. We often joked that if there was a couch in his office he might never leave.”

When he does finally leave, he won’t be going far, as Kluka still plans to be active in the community and in the Cabrini Parish once he retires later this year.





Last Updated: 4/11/2014 11:01:56 PM EST

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