The balancing act performed by coaches
During the day, Curt Kuntz might wear a black tie with an orange sweater vest – maybe even black and orange striped socks.
He’s not the world’s craziest Cleveland Browns fan, he’s a teacher at Howland High School.
“I have a great teaching job with great administrators,” Kuntz said. “Howland is a great place with great kids, too, and a tradition of academic success.”
When that final bell rings, however, he loses the vest. He can keep the tie, though. It just wouldn’t be as comfortable as a black (or red) pullover jacket. He’ll then head south on state Route 11 and follow Interstate 680 for a few miles to Midlothian Blvd.
Kuntz is the head football coach at Struthers High School.
“Howland gets out of school at 2:24 (p.m.) and Struthers lets out at 3,” Kuntz said. “It works out perfectly. I get there right on time in the afternoon ready to coach.”
He’s not a rare case. Many area coaches are teachers at different schools than where they lead the football program. Examples include Champion’s Terry Howell (a Niles teacher) and Brian Hoffman (an assistant principal at West Middlesex in Pennsylvania). More coaches, like Mathews’ Mike Palumbo, Lakeview’s Tom Pavlansky, LaBrae’s John Armeni and Poland’s Mark Brungard – just to name a few – have the luxury of teaching and coaching in the same school district.
“I’ve been a health and phys ed teacher here for 18 years,” Brungard said. “It’s always the same, but different. Relatively the same subject, but there’s always a new crop of kids and you get to see them all grow up.”
Brungard, who was the quarterback on Youngstown State’s national championship teams in 1993 and 1994, instructs the kids of Poland during the week, then blesses a congregation on the weekends. With former Bulldogs softball coach Reid Lamport, he is a pastor at the Church of the Rock in Poland.
“Just a calling,” Brungard said. “Sometimes you feel the need to be in touch with things spiritually and lead that message with others. It’s been a great ministry for 13 years and the church was started by my good friend, Reid Lamport, with that vision.”
Sometimes, Youngstown Christian coach Brian Marrow asks for guidance from a higher power to get through the day. A deeply religious man himself, Marrow is a methods engineer at Viasystems Group in North Jackson.
“It’s demanding, for sure,” Marrow said.
Summer practices are held solely in the evenings because Marrow doesn’t get off work until 4:30 p.m.
“It’s tough when you have a full-time job because everything with football is a full-time job,” he said. “This time of year, especially, gets pretty heavy. The honey-do list keeps getting bigger and I have to take care of the work at home first.
“My wife isn’t too happy when I start to get behind.”
All head coaches will agree that they couldn’t get through a season, let alone a game, let alone a practice without the help of their assistant coaches.
“We work together well,” Marrow said. “We love our kids and that’s the main thing.”
Nick Wagner is a YCS assistant who is also a teacher at the school. Johnny Bayuk is entering his first season as the wide receivers and defensive back coach on Kuntz’s staff. He’s the son of longtime Mahoning Valley coach Jeff Bayuk and a teacher at Struthers.
“He’s going to be a better coach than his dad,” Kuntz said. “He’s going to be a great head coach, unfortunately. Somebody will steal him from me soon.”
Then, he’ll experience the crazy, yet rewarding profession.