The search for a new Rivers athletic director reached far and wide. Three hundred-plus candidates applied for the job; the pool was eventually narrowed down to four highly qualified aspirants. But in the end, the new AD was chosen from the ranks of current Rivers faculty. Head of School Ned Parsons announced on Wednesday that the position of athletic director will be filled by Keith Zalaski, a Rivers coach and faculty member since 2015.
Zalaski will be stepping into the shoes of longtime AD Bob Pipe, who is leaving Rivers to serve as athletic director at St. George’s School in Middletown, R.I. A popular math teacher, Zalaski has also shown his prowess on the playing fields, as coach of both boys’ varsity basketball and golf. He is delighted to take on the new position and excited about the potential it holds for interacting with more students in new arenas.
“In my five years at Rivers, I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my time working with the students, parents, and faculty in a variety of roles,” says Zalaski. “I fully believe that the education of kids goes well beyond the walls of the classroom, and I’m very excited to be stepping into the role of athletic director. I look forward to helping ensure that all our student-athletes leave with memories and experiences that they can turn to long after their time on campus.”
Zalaski came to Rivers following teaching and coaching stints at Arlington Catholic, Trinity Pawling, and Williston Northampton School. He holds a BA in economics from Amherst College, where he played basketball and captained the golf team, and an MA in teaching from Tufts University. He served as an assistant men’s basketball coach at Tufts University for three years; during that time, he also worked at the 3 Point Foundation and Hoop Mountain basketball camps.
Pipe couldn’t be more pleased about the hand-off. “Keith is a fantastic choice to be the next AD at Rivers,” he says. “His knowledge of Rivers and his relationships with the kids and coaches make it an easy fit and transition for him and for Rivers. Keith has proven to be an excellent coach and leader who exemplifies Excellence with Humanity.”
Parsons was thrilled to have found the best candidate within the ranks of Rivers school faculty, noting that, in addition to his background in athletics, Zalaski possesses deep institutional knowledge and an understanding of the school’s culture. “Keith’s background in coaching at a variety of sports and levels, from high school to college, his work as a college assistant steeped in the recruiting process, and his own sports career as a collegiate basketball player and golfer, give him the perspective on the trajectory of high school sports at the highest levels,” says Parsons.
“But it’s Keith’s passion for education—as a teacher, advisor, and mentor to so many on the campus far away from his coaching responsibilities—that really cemented for us that his student-centered philosophy and his commitment to the whole child were just the right fit for our community,” Parsons continues. “Keith understands the value of athletics in the lives of young people—at every level, in any sport—and he brings that holistic understanding to the role. From college-bound varsity athletes to Middle School students trying a sport for the first time, Keith knows how our program needs to serve each child.”