Every time I see Roger Kuntz, the San Marcos High teacher and coach is wearing a big, genuine smile.
In 2011, 2013, and 2014, Roger was named the Channel League Boys High School Volleyball Coach of the Year, and he’s also a very popular 9th grade English teacher, prone to quoting Shakespeare’s “a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.” In his spare time, Roger is a professional ski instructor in Colorado and can frequently be seen driving around Santa Barbara in a 1972 Volkswagen bus, chasing waves and yoga classes.
Santa Barbara’s own “Mr. Chips” took time to reflect on the Proust questionnaire.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement is the lifelong relationships that have been developed with former students, student/athletes, coaches, and families. Also, to achieve happiness and success as a family often eludes many … and we are blessed.
What is your most marked characteristic?
The “Coach K” characteristic that is hopefully remembered is a big smile, direct eyes, a strong handshake, a warm hug, an enthusiastic greeting, and a memorable response. “What kind of game have you got?”
What do you like most about your job?
I have the best job in the world. I get to watch 9th grade English/language students at San Marcos High School learn about classic literature, interpret poetry, analyze current articles, and discuss/practice ways to write better. Then, I get to coach and teach boys volleyball. Finally, I get to open up a new world of snow skiing to people from all over the world, as a ski instructor at Winter Park Resort in Colorado (on my days off!).
What’s your fondest memory about coaching?
In coaching, “you never understand the importance of a moment, until it becomes a memory.” In team sports, the relationships that you establish, nurture, build, and develop turn ordinary moments into “magic”!
What is your greatest extravagance?
My greatest extravagances are in my garage. Two vintage vehicles make me happy every time I get in and go! My daily driver is a 1972 Pearl White VW Bus, the quintessential surf mobile. No racks, no worries, never in a hurry. My other car is a 1970 Black Corvette Stingray convertible. The top never goes up and the speed never slows down.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A cup of black French roast coffee, sharing a morning of glassy waist-high surf at Rincon, lunch at East Beach playing sand volleyball doubles, and playing my 1973. Gibson guitar on the deck, watching the sunset over Stearns Wharf. (A knee-deep powder day of skiing at Winter Park is a close second.)
What is your greatest fear?
If I was physically unable to enjoy sports with family and friends. “Use it or lose it!”
What if your current state of mind?
Reflective and grateful. 2014 has been a life-changing year, beginning with a spring championship in SMHS Boys’ Volleyball, the marriage of our son, Josh, this summer, and the loss of my father this fall.
What is the quality you most like in people?
If I had to pick one quality, it would be to “stay real.” In other words: Be genuine. “To thine own self be true.”
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
Entitlement. Those who feel they deserve something for less … or for nothing. Our society was built on achievement. Be productive. Be accountable.
Who do you most admire?
My wife, Teresa, more than anyone in the world. She is better than anyone I have ever met. As a physical therapist at Cottage Rehab, she helps people gain back a better quality of life, with dignity, compassion, and hard work.
What do you most value in friends?
In my friends, I value strength the most. Physical strength, mental strength, and spiritual strength are “the sciences.” Social strength is “the art.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Patience may be a virtue, but this is one area that needs a great deal of work. I tend to be impulsive and don’t always think before speaking or acting.
Where would you most like to live?
I am living exactly where I want to, which is here in Santa Barbara. I live at East Beach. Volleyball across the street with views of the islands and the Riviera from our deck.
What is your most treasured possession?
Our ranch in Colorado, on Hamilton Creek. My dad and I always had a dream to have a place in the Rocky Mountains, and we made this happen in 1989. We continue to enjoy this special place with family and friends where it is Christmas every day.
Who makes you laugh the most?
My close friend of 40 years, Jim “Taco” Gerik of Dallas, Texas, has kept me smiling and laughing through every step. His love for life and a good time is forever contagious.
What is your motto?
My motto has always been and always will be to “WIN THE DAY!”
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
The historical figure I most identify with is fictional but encrypted into the hearts of those that understand: Captain Augustus “Gus” McCrae, from Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry. “It’s not dying I’m talkin’ about — it’s living! By God, Woodrow, it’s been one hell of a party!”