Faculty & Staff Profiles

Faculty Spotlight: Middle School teacher and Assistant AD Andy Pogach
Posted 05/05/2016 04:58PM

It seems like Andy Pogach is everywhere at Durham Academy — leading a Middle School advisory, teaching physical education to fifth- and eighth-graders, teaching an eighth-grade math class, coaching three teams and two different sports in fall and winter at the Upper School, coordinating spring sports at the Middle School and serving as assistant athletic director — and that’s just the way he likes it. If you need proof that Pogach is always on the move, he wears a Fitbit-type device and says he logs 15,000 steps a day.

Pogach is happiest when he’s busy and doing lots of different things, and it’s been that way since he was a kid who loved math, numbers, sports and statistics. He played saxophone in his high school marching band, won three state championships in tennis, was student assistant coach and manager for the basketball team and made grades that got him into an Ivy League school.

Before Pogach even arrived at the University of Pennsylvania, he had pretty much nailed down a job as manager for the varsity men's basketball team. It was a volunteer position, “but it was great for my résumé, and I got to travel around the country and the world with Penn. I spent four years as a basketball manager [serving as head manager his junior and senior year], and I really, really loved it. … It was really fun and we were successful. We won Ivy League championships my sophomore and junior years and I had a chance to go to the NCAA tournament.”

When Pogach wasn’t involved with Penn’s basketball team, he volunteered with the Penn Relays, helped in the Philadelphia 76ers communications office on game days, pitched in on the 2002 NBA All-Star Game and assisted whenever NCAA tournament games were held in Philadelphia.

Pogach knew he wanted to be involved in sports after college, but with senior year drawing to a close he also knew he needed to get a job. Graduating from Penn’s Wharton School with a B.A. in accounting, he set out on a round of accounting interviews. But something didn’t feel right.

“There were all these people sitting in a cubicle at a desk, wearing a suit and tie. I knew this just isn’t me.” Pogach put accounting interviews aside when a full-time position opened up as director of basketball operations at Penn, working with the men’s and women’s basketball programs and helping run their camps.

“The job itself, you couldn’t come up with a list for a job description, it would go on for five pages. It’s anything and everything, but I learned a lot of skills at 22 and 23 years old.”

By his third year in basketball operations, Pogach had his eye on graduate school and headed to Chapel Hill to earn a master's degree in UNC’s sport administration program. The first year was spent in classes like sports marketing and sports finance, and the second year in a paid internship working in compliance in the athletic director’s office.

He learned a lot about the NCAA and compliance issues, and also learned “I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself with one thing. In a big athletic program, you’re kind of doing one thing, you’re in the ticket office or you’re in compliance, marketing or some other area. I knew I wanted to be involved in athletics, but I wanted to be involved in everything.”

He was a finalist for the director of basketball operations back in Philadelphia at Temple University, but didn’t get the job. “That left me back at square one. I had put all my marbles in that position. I spent about six weeks looking for jobs and opened my search to high schools. I graduated in May, it’s now August and I didn’t have a job.”

Hopewell Academy, a new school in Cary, hired Pogach to start its athletic program. “I got to come back to the Triangle, which I really liked, and I got to see what it was like [working] in high school.” He created an athletic program from scratch and coached basketball, soccer and tennis.

“I had zero soccer background, but I loved coaching basketball and loved coaching tennis. That clicked for me. This is something I want to do. I liked the high school level, liked the impact I had.”

After two years, Pogach was ready for a bigger school, and that’s when DA came in the picture.

DA had an opening for a girls basketball coach, and Pogach spent the 2008-2009 school year as coach of the JV girls basketball team, assistant coach of the varsity girls basketball team, assistant coach of the varsity boys tennis team and filling in as a substitute teacher. The next year he was hired to teach math for a Middle School teacher who was going on maternity leave, and the year after that he moved into the PE role.

“I’ve really, really enjoyed working with the people here at DA. Everyone here — especially working so closely with the Middle School faculty — they are so welcoming, so encouraging, supportive, always there to help. I love this place so much, and part of the reason is the people I work with. I’m fortunate to have landed at a school that has such a great faculty and staff.”

Pogach grew up in Newark, Delaware, and DA reminds him of Tower Hill, the independent school he attended from pre-k through eighth grade before transferring to a public high school.

“I had a lot of great teachers who had a great impact on me. I want to be able to impact our students in a positive way, in whatever way that might be. The students here are great. They love learning, they want to be taught, they want to do well and they want to be successful. They care about academics, they care about athletics and they care about the arts. They are so well-rounded. Being from the Ivy League and being involved in Ivy League basketball, that’s the type of students we were around. … We had sports programs and, sure, we want to win and win championships, but we didn’t sacrifice being a college student, being able to study, being successful. I feel like we have a similar type of student here and a similar culture where winning is important but it’s also about building the all-around student. Athletics is a piece of that."

Pogach likes teaching Middle School students, and says “they soak in the material. Then I really like that I get to coach in the Upper School and coach kids I taught a few years prior. I get to influence them in different ways.”

He spent this year's spring break as a chaperone for the Middle School trip to France. It was his first time to help chaperone the trip and he jumped at the opportunity. “What a great opportunity to see a different part of the world, and I had a great experience with that.” A labor strike in Paris meant the DA group’s flight home had to be rescheduled. The group was divided, with Pogach and eight students on a different flight than the others. “It’s a huge responsibility, but I’m used to that. I’ve had plenty of experience. I don’t get flustered.”

He’s been teaching and coaching all the way back to his high school days. His first-ever job was teaching tennis the summer after his sophomore year, and he later worked with tennis camps at the University of Virginia and UNC. Pogach had a terrific tennis experience at Newark High School, winning two state championships as an individual player and winning the team championship his junior year. The team lost only three matches over his four years of high school.

He coaches DA’s varsity girls tennis team, still plays a bit during the girls tennis season and occasionally plays with friends on the weekends. 

Pogach coaches the boys JV basketball team and is assistant coach for the boys varsity basketball team. He played basketball through eighth grade, but wasn’t a good enough player to continue at a large high school. His middle school PE teacher encouraged him to stay involved in sports, and Pogach passes that same encouragement along to students he encounters at DA.

“Kids that maybe aren’t good at basketball can help out in other ways: filming, broadcasting, taking stats, things that I did. Once I realized that my playing days were over, I asked how can I help out. I’m always searching for students like me that want to be involved in sports.”

DA girls and boys home varsity basketball games are live-streamed from Kirby Gymnasium, and Pogach was key in making that happen.

“We had a lot of time when the new gym was going up to think about how we could use all the resources there. We went from a gym that nobody was really proud of to what many people think is the best gym in our conference, in the area. One of the things I requested was that we have WiFi in the gym. You never know what you’re going to need down the line. … We were able to start filming games. We haven’t really put a lot of resources into it. We spent money on a camera and some software, and we’re able to live-stream these games.”

Bringing DA basketball to a broader audience dovetails with a role Pogach will take on next year. He’ll add sports information director to his title as assistant athletic director, and will work to promote all of DA’s athletic teams.

Sports are also a big part of Pogach’s life apart from Durham Academy. He started his own AAU basketball program, the Carolina Flyers, five years ago “as a way for me to coach more basketball.” He started with a group of eighth-graders, many of them DA students. They won the state AAU championship as sophomores and capped off their four-year run with an AAU championship in Las Vegas as juniors.

“It was a really, really good experience for me. I was in charge for the whole program. I was in charge of the money, the uniforms, the gym rental, the scheduling, everything. It kind of brought me back to when I was at Penn.”

Members of his first AAU team are graduating from high school, but Pogach is running two other Carolina Flyers teams — one with eighth-graders and the other with 10th-graders. “Almost every weekend from now to July I’m coaching somewhere.”

Summertime is coming, but that doesn’t mean Pogach hangs up his whistle and clipboard.

He’ll run basketball camps the first two weeks of DA Summer Programs, then will attend team camp at Catawba College with DA's JV and varsity boys teams. He’ll spend most of July with his AAU teams, including 10 days of tournaments at Myrtle Beach. Next up is a couple of weeks with his parents in Delaware. Then girls tennis starts Aug. 8, which means Pogach is back on the courts at DA.

“I like keeping busy."

An independent, coeducational day school, pre-kindergarten through grade 12.
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