The truth is that many people set rules to keep from making decisions ~Mike Krzyzewski
Mike Krzyzewski, also known as Coach K, has been on my mind lately. He and I have a love/hate relationship. Even though he led the Duke Blue Devils to the NCAA championship on Monday night and made me cry (I rooted for my Butler Bulldogs!), Coach K still has a place in my heart.
I say this as someone with two-syllable Polish surname that, mercifully, caused almost no tongue-tied pronunciation issues for my elementary school teachers--Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Bradley, Mr. Johnson. I felt grateful for the short last name, especially after seeing what Billy Szczepanikowki and Katy Wyszczakowicz endured at the beginning of each school year. I still cringe in sympathy for them.
But . . . KRZYZEWSKI? Roll call must have been tough for young Mike. I like that Mike never changed his name and kept things intact -- preserving the 10 letters in their original, Slavic, unpronounceable and misspellable order. Polish is my first language, and even I have to resist the urge to throw in an extra vowel. Good one, Mike!
KRZYZEWSKI is the perfect crossword word, not only because it looks like an alphabet in crisis. There's more: the root, KRZYZ, is Polish for "cross." And the Polish word for crossword is KRZYZOWKA.
And so, if I were to make a Polish crossword for Mike, it would be a KRZYZEWSKI KRZYZOWKA. Very cost effective: no need to buy a vowel.
So how do you pronounce KRZYZEWSKI? The way Coach K tells you to pronounce it . . .