COD Selects Jane Vatchev as College-Wide Outstanding Full-Time Faculty Member

Going all the way back to middle school, Jane Vatchev always knew that she wanted to be a teacher. That dedication to COD is being recognized.


Jennie Dunbar

Vatchev standing in front of the Athletic Hall of Fame in COD’s Phyiscal Education Ctr.

Nick Karmia, Sports Writer

Jane Vatchev was selected for COD’s College-Wide Outstanding Full-Time Faculty Member award for the 2021-2022 academic year. These are College of DuPage educators “who stand at the pinnacle of their profession,” according to COD’s outstanding faculty members page. 

While also teaching at COD, Vatchev was head of both the men’s and women’s track and field teams for 13 years, and her teams won eight National Junior College Athletic Association National Championships. A total of 118 of her athletes were individual NJCAA National Champions, and 220 athletes became NJCAA All-Americans.  In 2017, Vatchev developed COD’s Athletic Hall of Fame that is “to honor student athletes, coaches and support staff whose actions and achievement in their sport brought distinction to the college.” 

When Vatchev is inside the classroom, she does her best to provide an educational environment that interacts with its students. 

“I really try to connect with my students and have them connect with each other so there’s a comfort level there,” said Vatchev. “I want them to interact with each other, and I think in teaching when you share stories, when you make real life examples, students remember that.” 

In Vatchev’s teaching space, anything from physical fitness to diet analysis, she is “all about application” in the classroom. 

“It isn’t just me sharing what I know; it’s them sharing what they know, and that makes it more valuable and puts some onus on them for the learning process,” said Vatchev. 

Growing up, Vatchev’s family always had athletics at its heart. Vatchev’s father competed heavily in basketball, golf and tennis, and she also had three brothers who were involved in a wide array of sports. 

“Everything was a competition. If you and I played a scrabble game I wouldn’t let you beat me” Vatchev said. “That competitive nature was always around, and I think we got that from our dad.” 

After her student-athlete career in sports like track and field and volleyball, Vatchev’s teaching career started at John Deere Middle School in Moline, Ill.. “I was coaching three sports and teaching physical education classes, and loving every minute of it” said Vatchev. 

During Vatchev’s time as a middle school coach and teacher, she became very involved with an Illinois Olympic Academy chapter and brought the Olympic movement’s theme into her classroom through sports days and various activities. “Through that involvement, I actually went on to represent the U.S. at the International Olympic Academy in Greece, which is probably one of the biggest honors I’ve ever had in my life” said Vatchev. This is also where Vatchev met her husband Oleg, who was representing Bulgaria. 

“One of the things that encouraged me to do is to look beyond middle school teaching and see what else is out there in my future.” During Vatchev’s last two years at John Deere Middle School, she was  approached by the athletic director at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illi where she later became the assistant coach for volleyball. .

“That just peaked my passion to realize I wanted to be a college coach” said Vatchev. After coaching and teaching at Augustana College, Vatchev moved out to the west coast to attend graduate school at the University of Nevada-Reno where she also coached and taught in the P.E. department. 

“That continued the passion for working with college athletes. At one point we had a young man who set the world’s record in the discus while we were there,” Vatchev said. 

Vatchev then moved to Lewis University after graduate school before deciding to slow down to focus on making a family. During this time she worked at Walther Lutheran High School in Melrose Park, Illi. Vatchev then got the opportunity to be at COD, where she has continued her career of over 37 years as a professor in subjects such as Fitness/Sports Studies and Social and Behavioral Sciences. “I’ve been very blessed because I’ve loved every job I’ve ever had.” 

Out of all the sports Vatchev has been involved with over her coaching and teaching career, track and field has always hit close to home for her. “It was something I excelled at, I just got very interested in being able to train myself, as far back as I can remember I’ve loved it” said Vatchev. “When you can dig deep and put it in another gear, when you’ve worked and trained hard enough to run a smart race, there’s not a better feeling than that.” 

Vatchev’s coaching philosophy: “Everybody is welcome to come out for my team, love what you do, work hard, and support each other.”