Father’s Day 2024: South Hadley’s Rich Marjanski cherishes era coaching his three daughters on the soccer pitch

The Marjanski family poses for a pitcure at midfield during girls soccer senior night festivities at South Hadley High School last fall. Left to right: Rich, Tracy, Lauren, Lindsay and Paige.

The Marjanski family poses for a pitcure at midfield during girls soccer senior night festivities at South Hadley High School last fall. Left to right: Rich, Tracy, Lauren, Lindsay and Paige. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Lauren and Rich Marjanski embrace after a soccer game last fall. Lauren is the last of three of Rich’s daughters to have played for him at South Hadley High School. She graduated this spring and will play at Siena College next fall.

Lauren and Rich Marjanski embrace after a soccer game last fall. Lauren is the last of three of Rich’s daughters to have played for him at South Hadley High School. She graduated this spring and will play at Siena College next fall. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

South Hadley head coach Rich Marjanski talks with his team during halftime against Sutton in the 2023 MIAA Division 4 girls soccer championship game at Doyle Field in Leominster.

South Hadley head coach Rich Marjanski talks with his team during halftime against Sutton in the 2023 MIAA Division 4 girls soccer championship game at Doyle Field in Leominster. STAFF FILE PHOTO

South Hadley girls soccer coach Rich Marjanski celebrates after the Tigers shut out Stoneham 3-0 to win the 2019 MIAA Division 3 girls soccer championship in Worcester.

South Hadley girls soccer coach Rich Marjanski celebrates after the Tigers shut out Stoneham 3-0 to win the 2019 MIAA Division 3 girls soccer championship in Worcester. FILE PHOTO

Members of the South Hadley girls soccer team, coach Rich Marjanski, left,  Hailey Werenski, left, Lindsay Marjanski, and Madelyn Doolittle celebrate after shutting out Stoneham 3-0 to win the 2019 MIAA Division 3 girls soccer final in Worcester.

Members of the South Hadley girls soccer team, coach Rich Marjanski, left, Hailey Werenski, left, Lindsay Marjanski, and Madelyn Doolittle celebrate after shutting out Stoneham 3-0 to win the 2019 MIAA Division 3 girls soccer final in Worcester. FILE PHOTO

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 06-14-2024 3:15 PM

Modified: 06-14-2024 3:18 PM


SOUTH HADLEY — The early portions of summer have provided Rich Marjanski with plenty of flashbacks to when he used to coach his three daughters on the same team during their youth soccer days about a decade ago.

His oldest daughter Lindsay (22 years old), middle daughter Paige (20) and youngest daughter Lauren (18) are all back sharing the same pitch with one another in a local women’s league. Paige is entering her senior year playing at Stonehill while Lauren prepares for her first year at Siena – both Division 1 programs. Lindsay graduated from Holy Cross this spring after spending her four years on the track and field team.

And this Sunday when they all reunite in South Hadley where it all started, they’ll be celebrating their father, Rich, who helped lay the foundation for them to succeed athletically and beyond.

“When they’re younger, they obviously need more of your attention,” Rich Marjanski said. “But now, as they grow older, you just appreciate how much they have learned and how much they love each other. It kind of hits your heart a little bit. They’re all very good at sports, obviously, but they’re just as good in the classroom and they’re great people. They have effort and drive that will take them far in life.”

Lindsay and Paige were key cogs of South Hadley High School’s state championship soccer team in 2019, and Lindsey certainly had the skills to play at the next level. But she chose to pursue track and field instead, using her speed on the soccer field elsewhere.

So as Rich, 56, and his wife Tracy soak up the summer sun while watching their three daughters work effortlessly in their summer league, everything feels perfectly in place.

“They’re all two years apart, so when they were younger the only time they were able to play together is when they played premier soccer, because Lauren played up three ages,” Marjanski said. “It all comes back full circle. This women’s league reminds me of when they were younger kids. They’re a joy to watch.”

Marjanski began his stint as the South Hadley girls soccer head coach in 2017. He wasted no time turning the tide of the Tigers’ culture, winning their first-ever Western Mass. championship that fall in his first season. Two more titles followed suit in 2018 and 2019, including the aforementioned state title in 2019.

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South Hadley won another Western Mass. title in 2022, and this past fall, the Tigers – led by Lauren’s 43 goals and 11 assists that made her the school’s leader in points – fell just shy of another state crown, losing 2-1 to Sutton in the MIAA Division 4 finals.

“They set the bar pretty high, along with their teammates as well,” Marjanski said of Lindsay and Paige. “Just the leadership they brought, it helped bring the winning culture to South Hadley. And we haven’t looked back. Even the youth programs today still talk about the culture of South Hadley soccer.”

Aside from trying his hand at soccer in high school, Marjanski didn’t know the game well enough to become a coach at a high level. He played college basketball, and that was the sport he loved most – being a soccer coach was never in the cards.

But when each of his three daughters, with Lindsay setting the tone for the rest to follow, played and succeeded during adolescence, he got dealt a new hand. Plus, the recreational department needed coaches.

It only made sense for Marjanski to give it a try.

“Amazingly, all three of my daughters gravitated toward soccer when they were very young,” he said. “At first, I took a little step back, pretty much like every other dad. But then when I saw how far I could push the girls, and I saw their drive for soccer, I wanted to accept the challenge. They wanted to take it to the next level, and I wanted to do everything I could to help them get there. So really as soon as the girls started playing, I wanted to learn more. That’s what really got me into the coaching.”

With Lauren having graduated from South Hadley this spring, there are no more Marjanskis coming through the girls soccer program – a first at the school since 2016. It would have made sense for Rich to step down and ride off into the sunset with his last daughter.

Yet the competitor in him is still as fierce as ever, and he knows there’s more hardware to be won. Marjanski will be back patrolling the sidelines at South Hadley next fall, and he’ll still have time to catch his daughters’ college games.

“I can set up my schedule so I won’t miss any of Paige or Lauren’s games, but I think there’s still some unfinished business here at South Hadley,” Marjanski said. “There’s a lot of talent in this program, and it’s going to be really good for a very long time.”

Marjanski noted that being a dad has taught him more about himself than he ever thought it would. And he’s passed what he’s learned down to his three daughters that they can now take into the next chapters of their life.

The circle of life is in full effect in more ways than one this Father’s Day for the Marjanski family. Whether it’s watching them excel on the same soccer field like they did growing up or seeing their transformations into young women, Marjanski couldn’t be prouder of his three daughters.

“I have four beautiful women in my life, and Father’s Day is very special because I get to spend that time with them,” Marjanski said. “Obviously when they get older, they move on. And that’s the great thing about spending so much time with them when they’re younger – you create so many memories. You just want to keep those memories going. Pretty soon, they’ll all have their own kids, and hopefully they can pass on what my wife and I have taught them when they’re raising their own.”