After joining the football program as an assistant coach last year, Mr. Gregory Isdaner will transition into a larger role in the athletics department. In addition to his role on the football team, he will teach physical education classes and supervise the strength and conditioning program.
Mr. Isdaner was born and raised in Lower Merion, and although he had a late start in football—not playing until high school—he went on to play at West Virginia University before entering the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys. The team cut him at the end of training camp, and, after bouncing on and off the Eagles’ practice squad, he wound up in the United Football League for a year. Despite his success, he chose not to play a second year and instead found his calling in education.
“I didn’t know what I was gonna do with my life when I got done playing, and I was sort of lost,” Mr. Isdaner said. “I got an opportunity to coach up at Germantown Academy, and I just sort of realized how quickly kids and I attracted to each other.”
He found it easy to motivate players and get them to push themselves harder, as he had developed connections with the players on the team. After a few years of coaching, he began teaching PE classes, growing as an educator as time went on. His biggest takeaway was discovering what he valued most.
“It turned out, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what exactly you’re doing, but it’s the people you get to connect with,” Mr. Isdaner said. “That makes all the difference in the world, those personal experiences.”
“Just being able to let them [students] know that you’re there to support them and help them get through stuff [is great]…You want them to succeed.”Mr. Gregory Isdaner
His passion for connecting with people stems from his desire to help. For him, impacting one student in the class each year, even if it just makes them a happier person, is a great accomplishment.
“Just being able to let them [students] know that you’re there to support them and help them get through stuff [is great],” Mr. Isdaner said. “You want them to succeed.”
Coming into a full-time position at Haverford, Mr. Isdaner looks forward to interacting with the students. His favorite part about the school is the players he coaches.
“I get to work with smart kids,” Mr. Isdaner said. “And they’re different levels of smart. I always tell the kids, ‘If you can’t think, you can’t play,’ and at some point that matters for everybody.”
The quick minds of the players let Mr. Isdaner enjoy his time working. He can spend more time on advanced concepts, and even if they have trouble picking things up, he is willing to keep trying.
Another part of his new role that he looks forward to is spending time with younger students.
“I’m super pumped about being able to interact with more kids on a daily basis, more boys, and being able to impact them at an earlier age,” Mr. Isdaner said. “I’m teaching the whole sixth grade PE this year, so I’m excited to start meeting younger kids and watching them grow.”
Besides working with students, he hopes his contributions will help add value to the work of his colleagues like strength and conditioning Coach Mr. Matthew Rosko. He also wants to add to the community by being a mentor.
“I’ve just found over the years that, for some weird reason, kids like me a little bit, I guess,” Mr. Isdaner said. “I keep it real, and I don’t know, maybe I’m just a big kid myself.”
“Kids who have never played sports, some of the most unathletic kids in my PE classes at GA, were some of the kids I was tightest with.”Mr. Gregory Isdaner
At the end of the day, for him, education is about guiding others.
“Kids who have never played sports, some of the most unathletic kids in my PE classes at GA, were some of the kids I was tightest with,” Mr. Isdaner said. “It’s pretty funny, and it’s just being able to show them that everyone has a different path, but there are people who want to help them.”