“I’m not a lot for making guarantees or stuff like that or empty promises,” Kunczewski said. “But I will say one thing: In 2012, I will guarantee that Viking football will be undefeated.”
The Vikings won’t actually play a game until 2013.
Kunczewski told the Seven Hills Rotary Club on Tuesday that he’s excited about the opportunity he has to once again be on the ground floor of building a football program.
He’s especially looking forward to the warm September Saturday a year into the future when his new team will take the field against the Scots of Maryville College.
Until then, he recognizes that he has a lot of work to accomplish — recruiting players, getting those players ready to face off against established programs in the first years and most importantly, bringing together the campus with the new team.
“The toughest thing is to make sure that you reach out to the campus community first,” he said. “It’s my job as a head coach to get in front of as many people on campus and in the Rome community as possible to let them know exactly what we’re going to be about. Anything new, there’s always going to be some fear element involved with it. And getting to kind of ease those fears or try to prove some of those stereotypes wrong, that’s something that is important. And I want to get out and help people understand exactly what Berry College football is all about.”
Kunczewski is a former player and graduate of Grove City College in Pennsylvania, where he graduated and then decided a year later to chase his dream of becoming a college football coach. Taking a salary cut, he has worked his way through the years at Allegheny College, Bowdoin College in Maine and LaGrange College, where he joined the staff to build their program in 2005.
He said the first two years of building the program were the toughest of all, especially with LaGrange losing every game for the first two years. But they also pulled off what Kunczewski called one of the “greatest turnarounds in a program in NCAA Division III history,” going 9-1 in the third season, winning their conference championship and earning a spot in the Division III playoffs.
When Berry College investigated bringing football to the school in 2010, LaGrange College was one of the programs they looked to for help. It turned out that Kunczewski led a group from Berry around their facilities and answered their questions. After investigating the area and the college, he fell in love and decided that this was the job he wanted more than any other.
“I wanted to find a place where I can without a doubt look people in the eye, look at families of recruits in the eye and say, ‘hey, I would send my own kids here,’” he said. “Berry, with all my research, has proved that to be certainly correct.”
He said that after more than three months of being on the campus, his opinion of the school, the students and administration couldn’t be higher.
“This is the place where we want to be involved in the campus community, be in the Rome area and raise a family here,” he said.