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Who needs a 9-to-5 job?

Published Aug. 28, 2005

This is another installment of A Day in the Life, a series in which Times sports writers chronicle a typical day of someone, some place or some thing on the North Suncoast.

It's 5:26 a.m. on Thursday. Joe Wajerski opens his eyes and punches the alarm clock button four minutes before 104.7 FM starts blaring oldies.

The day is barely under way and Wajerski's mind already is racing. There are schedules that need re-adjusting, phone calls to make, practices to coach and volleyball matches to officiate.

Wajerski, a self-described workaholic, juggles many hats and wears many whistles. Besides working as a physical education teacher and athletic director at Hudson Middle School, he is an assistant football coach, executive secretary for the Pasco County Middle School Athletic Association, booking commissioner for the West Central Officials Association and a referee.

One other thing. He works at a funeral home every other week.

So it's no wonder you have to be a rooster to keep up with Wajerski, a firm believer in the axiom that an hour worked early in the morning is worth two in the afternoon.

By 6:15 a.m., Wajerski, 44, dressed in his customary workday attire of shorts and a T-shirt, wakes up his daughter, Lauren, a freshman at Nature Coast Tech.

After taking his blood pressure medication and vitamins he is out the door of his three-bedroom Spring Hill home, ready to start one of the busiest days in the life of someone involved in Pasco County athletics.


6:45 a.m.

Wajerski is halfway through his 20-minute commute when his cell phone rings. An official who was supposed to cover a volleyball game canceled.

As booking commissioner, Wajerski is responsible for 50 football and 40 volleyball officials. It's up to him to assign those referees for games and matches in Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Marion and Sumter counties.

Wajerski makes the necessary adjustments, placing a few calls to find a replacement.


7:45 a.m.

The bell rings for first period as students scurry to class. Wajerski pours his first cup of black coffee with cream. Five minutes later, he is gathering notes to talk about an athletic fundraiser on the school's morning television show.

"That's just something I like to do," Wajerski said. "I like to add some sports to the television program. If I hear something on the radio, I'll talk about that on the morning announcements."


8:53 a.m.

Wajerski finishes his third cup of coffee before third period begins. In each of his five, 50-minute classes, Wajerski lets the students play volleyball and basketball. The weight room also is open.

This is Wajerski's 21st year as a P.E. coach at Hudson Middle. After graduating from Illinois Benedictine College, Wajerski moved here to be closer to his parents, Joe and Betty.

"I really liked the area," Wajerski said. "We'd come down to Clearwater from time to time when I was growing up. Once my parents were here, I decided it was time to come here, too."


11:32 a.m.

After teaching five classes, Wajerski gets a break. Well, not really. His planning period begins, the only time he has to work on his myriad activities. During those 1{ hours, Wajerski wolfs down some fish and potatoes, checks his e-mail, works on the school fundraiser and makes more calls to officials.

"With all that I do, I'm always on the go," he said.


2:30 p.m.

Football practice begins. Wajerski works with the offensive and defensive linemen and goes over Tuesday's game. He doesn't have them long. A half hour later, he watches as the offense runs plays against a scout team defense. Then it is the defense's turn to go up against the scout team offense.


4:30 p.m.

Practice runs late, but Wajerski can't stay. He sprints toward the locker room, takes a shower, puts on his referee uniform and hops in his 1999 black Nissan Sentra to head to Gulf High for junior varsity and varsity volleyball matches.

There was a time when Wajerski didn't have such a hectic lifestyle. During his first five years in Hudson, he didn't officiate. That changed when his wife, Ann, 38, was pregnant with Lauren. Because he wanted Ann to stay home with the baby, Wajerski decided to earn extra money officiating a few games.

He started with baseball. Then came football, volleyball, basketball and softball. Now, it's practically a second job.

"I guess I'm just old school," Wajerski said. "That's the way I grew up. My mom stayed home to take care of me and my sister. My dad held two jobs, working at a factory and a post office. We needed the income as a family to make this work, and this seemed like a pretty good way to do it."


6 p.m.

The junior varsity volleyball match between Ridgewood and Gulf begins. Wajerski is the umpire and makes the final call. The match lasts an hour. Before the varsity match, Wajerski heads to the concession stand. He only has time for a few sips of Pepsi before he is back on the court, this time as a side judge.

The varsity match is shorter than usual. Ridgewood sweeps the first three games.

"It's nice to have a quick night for a change," he said.


9:12 p.m.

Wajerski heads home. He wants to call his wife and see how Lauren and his sons, Joey, 9, and Jordan, 4, are doing. But first he has to check his messages and make sure the other games that night went off without a hitch.


9:58 p.m.

Wajerski pulls in the driveway. His family is waiting. So are the leftovers. He eats, talks with his wife and kids. Then it's time for bed.

The next day, heck, the rest of the week, doesn't get any easier. Wajerski still has to officiate the Pasco-Hudson football game on Friday and a volleyball tri-match at River Ridge on Saturday morning.

"I'll start thinking about that when I wake up," Wajerski said. "Now it's time to get some sleep."