California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Kuntz Retires After 25 Years As Head Coach Of CLU Soccer

    Only once every so often there comes a person who has such a large impact on a community. In this case that person is Dan Kuntz, head men’s soccer coach at California Lutheran University.

    Kuntz decided to retire following his 25th season at the helm. In this time, he has coached teams to championships and helped athletes play compete a high level on both the men’s and women’s teams.

    “He [Doc Kuntz, Dan’s father] was a key factor…he’d get kids from the local barrio to come in, who had all kind of issues with parents and all kinds of other stuff. He’d keep us together. He taught us to accept each other and work through problems,” Dan Kuntz said about one of the many inspirations to get into coaching.

    Kuntz began his coaching experience as a young kid at the local Mesa YMCA in Arizona. He followed that with many stints as a coach at the club level and the high school level, but it was Mesa Westwood high school that he considers his first “formal” head coaching position.

    While at Mesa Westwood Kuntz had a lot of success leading his team to a Fiesta Bowl Soccer Classic Championship in 1986 and a runner-up finish in 1987. He also led Westwood High School to its first state soccer championship appearance.

    This success carried over into his next job, one he says he said “no” multiple times to before accepting the position.

    “I talked to my wife about it and them [Cal Lutheran] said I’ll tell you what, I’ll write a proposal. If you think it’s something you might be interested in, I’ll weigh it,” Dan Kuntz said. Kuntz wrote this proposal for Cal Lutheran’s KCLU radio and served as its’ first General Manager launching their NPR affiliate radio station on the air in 1994, and while in charge was asked to help out with the soccer program. Again he brushed it off due to the high number of seniors on the team and said maybe after the first year he would help and do what he can.

    Kuntz then took the position following his time helping out in the athletic department at Cal Lutheran. He would begin his illustrious career as Cal Lutheran men’s and women’s soccer coach. As head coach of the women’s program from 1993-2004, Kuntz received NSCAA Far West Region Coach of the Year in 1996, 1997 and 1998.  During this time, the Regals won eight straight SCIAC titles and earned one of the longest SCIAC win streaks in women’s soccer history.

    While in charge of the men’s team, Kuntz has led the Kingsmen to multiple SCIAC Postseason appearances. Winning it all in 2013 and taking his team to the NCAA tournament.

    “One of the things I always talk about Coach Kuntz is how much he gets out of a player. More than I would expect… He always expects more. You think you can give that and none more, and he says nope you can give more,” Assistant Coach Javier Figueroa said.

    With all his success he still looks at the 1997 team, which was one of the final seven teams in the national tournament as one he “can’t ignore.”

    “We had a tough season in 1995… we had a lot of young guys and most of them wanted to leave. Couple of the guys got together without me even and decided they weren’t going to leave. Few years later they were in the final seven in the nation. They were one game away playing here from going to the final four,” Dan Kuntz said.

    But all while giving praise to the team in ‘97 Kuntz expressed, “every team and every player is special in their own way.”

    “Dan has and continues to have incredible compassion, integrity and anything he’s ever done in coaching has been about the player. It’s never been about him,” said Nora Kuntz, wife of Dan Kuntz.

    Players who have played under Kuntz have said they experience this seflessness.

    “He truly cares for you. As a person more than just a player or coach… He cares about your well-being and the well-being of your family. He just looks out for you” Miguel Silva said. Silva was a part of the 2013 team that raised the SCIAC trophy.

    Kuntz hopes he has made an impact on his players will continue to be a postitive influence, “They have found lifelong friendships… and memories that they can take with them of life beyond sport… and that I hope I have always fostered that,” Kuntz said.

    Ivan Sanchez, who was also a part of the title-winning team in 2013, spoke about what the men’s soccer program will miss most about Dan Kuntz,

    “We’re going to miss his presence, and of course his laughter, but it’s definitely a different presence and his knowledge of what he brings to scouting and players.”

    Presence was a common theme when people were asked about what the program will miss after Kuntz’s retirement.

    “He knows the game like nobody else I’ve ever met for any sport… they’re going to miss his experience, his knowledge of the game and his intuitive sense with the players,” Nora Kuntz said.

    In these 25 years, Dan Kuntz has coached many different types of players, but none more close to his heart than his very own son Danny Kuntz, who played for the kingsmen while attending Cal Lutheran.

    “There’s a term that we use at Apple, serve and leadership. I don’t think there is a better example of it than my Dad. Anything that he can do to support the community, and the students and the families… he’s going to do it,” Danny Kuntz said.

    Dan Kuntz will end his coaching career with over 200 wins, and will hope to add more as his 25th and final kingsmen team enters the SCIAC postseason tournament as the second place team.

    “We have a tremendous group of young men, and this one is pretty special… I would love to see them make the national tournament, and do something really special,” Kuntz said.

    Dan Kuntz has and forever will be a vital part of the growth of soccer at Cal Lutheran, and his greatest reward he said, “Is having coached all of you.”

    Gabe Naudin