ATWATER — After 30 years, Roddy Svendsen still enjoys working with high school athletes. Svendsen has spent the past three decades coaching water polo, swimming and the better part of the past decade as the Atwater High athletic director.
He's good at his job.
Last year the Sac-Joaquin Section and the California Interscholastic Federation honored Svendsen as a Model Coach Award winner.
Svendsen, 57, can add another award to the list because the California Athletic Directors Association named Svendsen the Athletic Director of the Year.
"What can I say? When you become as old as I am, I think it becomes your turn at some point," Svendsen joked. "No, it's a big honor. There's not a lot of things that can get to an old guy like me, but this one did. It was a surprise. I'm pretty happy about it."
Svendsen will accept his award at the California Athletic Directors Association Conference in Reno in April.
The Atwater High staff honored Svendsen during a recent staff meeting. Many shared stories and there were videos put together by students.
"The video was neat," Svendsen said. "To have students who were in your class or athletes you helped say you changed their life, that's fun to see."
With his decades of working with the Atwater aquatics, Svendsen has made an impact on hundreds of athletes who have come through Atwater.
"Obviously, Roddy has a long athletic legacy," Atwater principal Alan Peterson said. "I can't tell you how many people I've run into -- whether it's coaches or players -- who were influenced in some way by Roddy.
"If there's one thing Roddy has done since I've been at Atwater, it's getting the coaches to work together like no other school. We have multiple two-sport and three-sport athletes and to do that it takes cooperation. Especially when coaches want their athletes year-round. That can't happen at Atwater."
While the Falcons have had success on the field, Svendsen was quick to point out Atwater student athletes are having success in the classroom. Atwater didn't have any academically ineligible athletes in the fall on their nine varsity teams.
"I think Roddy relates well with everybody," said Falcons head football coach Bob Valladao. "He's level headed. He does a good job of seeing things from everybody's perspective. He has credibility because he's been around for a long time. He has good relationships with not only people in our school, but people in our area and section."
You don't do something as long and as well as Svendsen has unless you enjoy it.
"I have a few years left in me," he said. "I'm still having fun. Every day I go to work I enjoy working with athletes and students.
"It's not about going to work each day. It's always seeing what I can do to help people out. High school kids have been my life."
Shawn Jansen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 385-2462.