CHICKASHA – Even though he only played for USAO one year, Dave Kunitz’ relationship with the university extended nearly a decade and still remains an important part of his life.
Kunitz, a member of USAO’s first men’s soccer team in 1998, is the head coach for the United States Deaf Men’s National Soccer Team. Additionally, he is a full time coach with Andromeda Football Club in Dallas and one of the leaders of Development Academy.
“The experience working with U.S. Deaf Soccer has been incredible,” Kunitz said. “I have had the opportunity to work alongside some fantastic individuals who volunteer their time and players who fundraise all to represent the United States in international competition. The greatest joy was our first trip to the Pan American Deaf Games in Venezuela. We opened the tournament with a 1-0 win over soccer power, Brazil.”
Kunitz is one of nine former athletes to be honored at the 40th Anniversary of Athletics, scheduled on USAO’s campus Nov. 1-3. The weekend full of events is open to all former students, athletes, coaches and all fans.
Kunitz, who spent another seven seasons as an assistant coach after finishing his eligibility, credits a large part of his professional success to his experiences at USAO.
“I spent eight years in Chickasha and the USAO community was a huge part of my personal and professional development,” he said. “As an employee and coach, I was able to work with a university staff that wanted to shape and impact the lives of its students.”
Kunitz had just one year of eligibility left when he transferred to USAO from Phillips University in 1998 to be part of the Drovers’ first men’s soccer team.
“It was exciting to be on the first team to play at USAO and to lay the foundation for the entire soccer program,” Kunitz said. “I will always remember coming together and forming great friendships with such a culturally diverse group of student athletes. Every USAO soccer season brought a new set of challenges and as a team. It was our responsibility to band together, identify them and overcome all obstacles necessary for success.”
Despite his short time on the field for USAO, he had a huge impact on creating what the program is today, said Coach Jimmy Hampton.
“Dave was the kind of player that other people naturally were drawn to and wanted to follow,” Hampton said. “He was a big reason why we were able to be so successful in the early days of the program, and why we are still having success today.”
In his lone season as a Drover, Kunitz led the team to an 11-5 record. He was named All-Conference First Team and earned an NAIA All-America Scholar-Athlete award.
Coach Jimmy Hampton said Kunitz immediately cemented himself as one of the team’s key defensive players. Soon after arriving he was named captain.
“He was a leader at everything he did,” Hampton said. “On the practice field he trained the same way that he played. He didn’t know how to take it easy. This made him an obvious choice as a captain for us.”
Chickasha and USAO were not well known to Kunitz before he arrived, but he said he quickly grew to love the town and the college.
“Both were instrumental in my decision to continue my studies after my athletic eligibility expired,” Kunitz said. “Chickasha will always hold a special place in my life, and I'm grateful to have met so many genuine people while I lived there.”
Kunitz went on to earn two degrees from USAO, one in natural science and another in physical education. He then joined Hampton’s coaching staff in 1999, a partnership that continued until 2006.
“Undoubtedly, the biggest influence early in my coaching career was (Coach) Jimmy Hampton,” Kunitz said. “He gave me the opportunity to break into the coaching profession and was invaluable as a mentor.”
Kunitz married his wife, Cara, in 2006. They live together in Dallas and have three children: Kenzie, 4, Michael, 3, and Chloe, 1. The couple is expecting their fourth child in December.
Kunitz’ profile is part of a nine story series featuring an alumnus from each of USAO’s current and former sports. Each of the alumni featured will be honored with a special award at the 40th Anniversary of Athletics, scheduled Nov. 1-3, 2012, on USAO’s campus.