Faculty Stories: Jane Vatchev

Jane Vatchev

Program: Physical Education, Fitness and Sports Studies


Sports have always been a part of Jane Vatchev’s life.

“I grew up in an athletic family with three competitive brothers and a dad who was an amazing basketball player and golfer,” she said. “I also knew from about the age of 5 that I wanted to be a teacher. Combining those two passions was an obvious choice.”

Vatchev participated in athletics growing up, including tennis, volleyball, gymnastics and cheerleading. But track and field was always her favorite and she became a student of the sport—reading books on technique and training, attending track camps during the summer, and doing off-season training before it was done by most high school athletes. 

At Augustana College, she was on the track and field team and earned her bachelor’s degree in physical education.

“The philosophy at Augie influenced greatly my own coaching philosophy – love what you do, work hard and support each other.”

Her 35-year physical education teaching career started at John Deere Middle School in Moline, then as a graduate assistant at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she earned her master’s degree. Moving back to the Chicago area, Vatchev was an adjunct faculty member at Lewis University, where she coached full time; taught at Walther Lutheran High School in Melrose Park; and became a full-time faculty member at College of DuPage, where she has been for 20 years.

I love the connection with students—the instilling of knowledge about themselves, the subject and how it connects to their future.

Jane Vatchev

Her coaching career included volleyball, basketball, tennis, cheerleading, and track and field.  Vatchev has coached at every level—junior high, high school, NCAA Division I, II and III and the NJCAA. At COD, she was the head men’s and women’s track and field coach for 13 years, and her teams won eight NJCAA National Championships (four men and four women), while 118 athletes were individual NJCAA National Champions and 220 athletes became NJCAA All-Americans.

Teaching is her passion and she enjoys working with students.

“I love the connection with students—the instilling of knowledge about themselves, the subject and how it connects to their future,” she said. “There is such great satisfaction when you know that students have learned and grown through the process of your time together. 

“I want students to be inquisitive about their world and life, not be afraid to ask questions and seek knowledge. I hope that students gain confidence in knowing themselves better and applying dedication to be the best version of them. It is important that what students are learning in my class can apply to their own personal life and future, which may be how to live a healthy lifestyle or what their future jobs could be in the PE, fitness and sports world. I also like to build camaraderie in my classroom so an atmosphere of learning and working together results.” 

Vatchev, who was named the 2022 college-wide overall outstanding faculty member, draws inspiration from her students as well as colleagues and family members.

“I am inspired by students who take learning to a whole new level and drive toward dreams with ambition and determination. COD PE/athletic colleagues who are supportive, creative and generous with their expertise are inspirational. And my children and family, who bring so much joy and meaning to life, inspire me on a daily basis.” 

More about the Physical Education, Fitness and Sports Studies program