After Thirty Years, Sandy Novak Retiring From Sahuaro


Max Becker, Sports Editor

In 1987 Ronald Reagan was president, we got introduced to Jonny Depp in 21 Jump Street, Zac Efron was born, and Sandy Novak was hired at Sahuaro High School.  Ms. Novak has been employed at Sahuaro for 30 years and recently announced she will be retiring at the conclusion of the 2016-2017 school year.

Ms. Novak was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She said her childhood was, “A lot of fun. We had to be home by the time the streetlights came on, because it was Chicago, but I think it was safer then than it is now.” She attended high school in Chicago before moving on to Carthage College in Wisconsin, and finally receiving her Masters’ degree in Administration from Concordia University in Illinois.

Before Sahuaro, she taught and coached women’s volleyball at Northeastern Illinois University. After a divorce, her brother suggested she move down to Phoenix, where he lived. Having already visited Arizona, she decided she liked Tucson better, and began applying for jobs shortly  after she moved here.

Novak was hired to Sahuaro in 1987 by Dana Pierson. In her first two years, she coached track and women’s volleyball and filled in as a substitute teacher during the school day. By her third year, she was hired as a full time Physical Education Teacher as well as the part time athletic director. She eventually became the full time athletic director, a position she has held for over 20 years.

Sandy said she has met some of her best friends through Sahuaro High School, people she views as her second family, as hers is still in Chicago. She said she has made wonderful memories, both off-campus and on-campus. “There was never a day where I got up and didn’t want to go to school,” she recalled with a smile. Steve Botkin, long time coach and Sahuaro empolyee, will be taking over for Ms. Novak in her retirement. “Mr. Botkin will do a wonderful job,” she said confidently, “he is very organized and capable.”  Coach Botkin in return states, “Sandy has been a Sahuaro Cougar for 30 years and a colleague for over 20 years. She knows the school inside and out and has been a wonderful mentor. I really appreciate all of her help and guidance she has given. Also all of the times she has been there for me as a friend and colleague. I am looking forward to carrying the torch as the new Athletic Director and wish her well as she starts her much deserved retirement.”

Shortly after she retires, she plans to visit Germany for 3 weeks to visit friends who she coached volleyball with. She plans to spend her summers in Chicago and remain in Tucson the rest of the year.

Ms. Novak wants to thank all her co-workers and administrators for making her time at Sahuaro so memorable.