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Lake Shore Remembers Coach Ignatowski, an Eagle who Soared High

Chris Ignatowski had a special way of making everyone he talked to feel like they were the most important person in the world.

Thursday night, the Lake Shore community showed that he meant the world to them.

“He knew how to get his athletes to play the very best,” middle school teacher and former girls volleyball coach Kevin Schamberger said. “He made every kid, every single student-athlete feel a part of a team, as well a part of his Phys. Ed classes. He is going to be missed by everyone.”

Ignatowski passed away last Tuesday, April 2nd after battling a brief illness.

Over 200 people packed the Lake Shore High School gym for a candlelight vigil to remember and honor their former physical education teacher and longtime coach.

Over the past two decades, Ignatowski touched the lives of many in Lake Shore teaching in the middle school while coaching track, swimming, volleyball and tennis.

Colleagues and former players alike described Ignatowski as someone who saw the best in everyone and had a knack for connecting with others and taking a genuine interest in their lives.

“Chris was good at being a teacher, especially a middle school teacher,” fellow Physical Education teacher Catherine Musty said. “He made kids feel good about themselves, held them accountable for their actions and celebrated their successes.”

Armed with a good sense of humor and infectious personality, Ignatowski was the perfect blend of motivation and calm for countless former players.

“He always knew how to shake the nervousness out of me any time before a match,” said Mary Kromer, a former tennis player.

He earned a bit of a reputation within Lake Shore for “stealing” athletes from other sports. In his first three seasons as the swim coach, Ignatowski tripled of the size of the team from 10 to 30 swimmers.

Ignatowski started the John Brockhurst Swimming Memorial Invitational in 2002, named after one of his former swimmers who was lost in a vehicle accident and invited Brockhurst’s parents to hand out the awards each year.

After student Rebecca Myers sang “On Eagles Wings”, those in attendance went out outside to the track with candles in hand. The Physical Education department released lanterns as Van Halen’s (a favorite of Ignatowski) “Eagles Fly” played through the loudspeakers.

“One of the last times a group of us was up at the hospital Musty played a little Van Halen and he put up his arms with a little bit of air guitar,” Schamberger said.

In her grief, former tennis player Mathea Riley reminded the audience how grateful they should be that they had someone like Ignatowski in their lives.

“We can cry now but when we’re done crying we should realize that we were all so lucky to cross paths with this incredible human being,” Riley said. “He taught me how to be a leader, how to love my fellow human being, how to appreciate the blessings my life is full of.”

“He also taught me a bit of tennis too,” she finished.

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