Coaches corner … with Castle Park’s Chris Kryjewski

Chris Kryjewski has coached at Castle Park High School, his alma mater, since 2010.

Chris Kryjewski initially developed a passion for football during his youth but, as a coach, has since embraced such eclectic sports as girls volleyball, coed roller hockey and girls lacrosse — all at Castle Park High School.

“I played for the Chula Vista Aztecs in 2002 before I went to high school in 2003 at Castle Park High,” he explained. “I graduated from Castle Park High in 2007. I had perfect attendance from 2003 to 2006. I played football under coach Paul Van Nostrand and played boys volleyball under coach Aaron Partch.”

After playing high school football with the Trojans, Kryjewski began to spread his wings as a coach in 2009 with the Chula Vista Aztecs of American Youth Football. He later became an assistant coach at his alma mater.

“Moving on to high school coaching at Castle Park High in 2010 as a football coach and boys volleyball coach was amazing,” he said.

He gained experience as an assistant coach and after five years felt he was ready to take on more coaching responsibilities.

“In November 2015 I applied for the girls lacrosse head coaching position because I felt I was ready to be a head coach of a program at 26 years old,” Kryjewski said. “I wanted to be at Castle Park High and this was one opening they had, so I jumped on the opportunity. Mr. Ed Bajet (Castle Park High School assistant principal of student activities) hired me and gave me that opportunity which I’m very thankful and I enjoy every moment being the girls lacrosse head coach at Castle Park High.”

Kryjewski assembled a dedicated staff around him and has helped transform the Lady Trojans girls lacrosse program into one of the rising programs not only in South County but throughout the San Diego Section.

Castle Park finished 0-17 in Kryjewski’s first season in 2016 but steadily displayed rapid improvement, recording a runner-up finish in the South Bay League standings in 2019 with an 8-2 league record en route to posting a noteworthy 10-8 overall mark.

Chris Kryjewski and his coaching staff have led a major turnaround in the Castle Park High School girls lacrosse program.

He said he has gained valuable insight by coaching girls sports.

“The difference of coaching boys and girls sports is different,” he said. “It took me one full season of coaching girls to truly understand the difference and how to truly interact with the girls. Coaching girls you have to be more open to listening to what is truly going on in their lives as they are not as open as boys are. You have to truly show them that you care for them and they will trust and open up to you.

“I feel the moment you coach girls it changes the way you coach in general as you become more patient when coaching. I feel since I have had the opportunity to coach girls it has changed my coaching style from being a coach who doesn’t yell any longer.”

Kryjewski admits is was a learning process at his end.

“When I took the position as the coach of the girls lacrosse program I had not played or coached the sport over my time being a part of athletics as a player and a coach,” he explained. “How I got into it was because Castle Park High gave me the opportunity to do supervision for the girls lacrosse games in the spring season of 2015. After doing supervision I was starting to like the scheme of the game, and when the position opened up, I truly jumped on it.”

Kryjewski initially met with the late Robert Blas, who served as a coaching mentor within the Sweetwater Union High School District, to learn how to run a program and, in Kryjewski’s words, to “learn the in-and-outs of the game.”

Kryjewski took a trip to Baltimore to attend a U.S. Lacrosse convention and also attended clinics in preparation for his first season as a head coach in the sport. He attended a Level 1 coaching clinic to learn the game and became a Level 1 certified coach.

He coached his first season alongside Paul Cooper, his best friend and boys basketball coach at CPHS.

“From that point I learned the basics of the game and took schemes and terminology from basketball and coached that first season,” Kryjewski said. “I truly think coaching multiple sports makes you better coach because you learn different concepts of each game and you see how they could mix together.

“When you coach multiple sports the coaching strategy doesn’t really change; it’s all about how you interact with the players and motivate them. I personally look at what things that didn’t work and did work yearly. What didn’t work I try to fix them or I will not do it again. The things that did work, of course, I continue to build off of.

Castle Park girls lacrosse coach Chris Kryjewski holds the Battle of the Greek Goddesses rivalry trophy after the Lady Trojans defeated the Chula Vista Lady Spartans last spring. Photo by Phillip Brents

“The biggest factor you need to know is knowing your players skill sets and what they do best as that will change yearly based off the growth they made the year before. I can say my greatest achievement is to truly see the growth of the girls lacrosse program at Castle Park High from being a start-up program to now as a team that will be contending for a league championship yearly because the team has truly bought into that mindset and our culture of family.

“With our concept of family nothing can break us down and I feel I have one of the top-notch coaching staffs in the county as we all work so well together. Without them and the buy-in of the players we wouldn’t have achieved what we have achieved in our five years together.”

It’s the people that Kryjewski has met along the way that has helped make him the person he is today, he said.

“At Castle Park High I have had the opportunity to truly expand my coaching knowledge with coaching five different sports and learning so many different aspects from very knowledgeable people,” he elaborated.

He has served two stints in coaching football on campus, totaling eight years, under coaches Hans Graham and Jose Mendoza. He helped coach roller hockey for three seasons along with Mendoza. He served two years as an assistant in boys volleyball under Partch and four years during two stints in boys basketball alongside Partch and Cooper.

Kryjewski served one year as head coach of the girls volleyball team.

“Every single one these coaches I learned something from and I’m proud I had the opportunity to coach with each of them,” Kryjewski said. “During my time at Castle Park High the last 10 years I have had the opportunity to coach on teams that have raised league banners in football (2014, 2015, 2018), roller hockey (2016) and boys basketball (2016).

He remains a dedicated Trojan alumnus.

“Fight on!” he champions.