Coach Gerry Kundert, now in his eighth-decade of life and the seventh-decade of football coaching in his blood, still lives in the home in which he raised his family and still drives his 1967 Austin Healy Sprite (with over 160,000 miles). Sitting on his covered patio one summer day in 2012, he told the story of how he, as a defensive coach, brought the Wing-T, an offensive system, to Mira Loma High School.
One fall day in the 1960’s, Coach Kundert was watching a University of Delaware football game on television, a team scheduled to play in Sacramento’s Camilla Bowl Game at Hugh’s Stadium. Intrigued by the Wing-T formation in that game, he asked a couple of his football coaching buddies if they wanted to join him at the game. As he watched Delaware execute the Wing-T, he began thinking of how it would work at the high school level.
Shortly thereafter, Kundert wrote to Delaware’s head football coach, posing questions about that offensive system. Being a high school coach, Kundert didn’t expect a response, but he soon received a letter from the coach, not only answering his questions, but also inviting him to submit more questions, which Kundert did.
That summer as the Kundert family was deciding where to travel in their motor home on vacation, Kundert asked his wife, LaVon, if she might like to go to Delaware? So when school ended in June, Kundert and LaVon, and their two children, Corrie (ML Class of 1970) and Nancy (ML Class of 1972) drove across the country.
Upon arriving in Delaware, Kundert made arrangements to watch the Delaware team from the sidelines. Not knowing the he was the high school football coach with whom he’d been corresponding, the head coach approached him and asked what he was doing. When Kundert introduced himself, the Coach said, “Well you can’t hear anything from over here. Come with me and listen when we talk in the huddle.” Later, he invited Kundert to participate in the team meetings.
Returning home at the end of the summer, Kundert was invited to leave his secondary coaching position at Encina High and join Coach Don Brown at Mira Loma, a decision based in part on his having known Brown from their school days in Lodi and later during their college days. He soon told Brown about the “Wing-T” offense and thought it would benefit ML’s players, who were generally on the small side, by giving them an advantage over players who were much bigger.
As an offensive play, players in the Wing-T block at angles and don’t take anyone “head on.” Mira Loma football players have never been known for their size, so if they executed the Wing-T correctly, defensive players executed the Wing-T correctly, defensive players had to spend time looking for the ball, which helped offensive players from not getting hurt as frequently. Impressed, Coach Brown began teaching his players the intricacies of the system, and the rest is history!
When asked about some of the highlights of his teaching career, Kundert said he enjoyed working with young people, including his three sons, Corrie, Ken (ML Class of 1974) and Keith (ML Class of 1977).
Dave Humphers, now the Head Coach at Nevada Union and former Mira Loma football player said, “Coach Kundert was a long-time fixture at Mira Loma. He served as an assistant football coach to Don Brown before becoming the head football coach. Both men gave the greater portion of their teaching and coaching careers to the students and athletes at Mira Loma.
Coach Kundert along with Coach Brown (it’s difficult to talk about one without including the other) were my coaches in high school. As an offensive guard playing at only about 150 lbs, it was my coaches who believed in me and gave me the chance to play. The Mira Loma coaches taught and instilled in us the values of a strong work ethic, commitment, confidence and teamwork. Besides winning a lot of games and championships (and we won a lot: 3 league championships while I was in high school, and 6 more in the next 9 years), but more important, we all learned so many core values during those years. I owe so much to Coach Kundert and Coach Brown. Even now, 36 years out of high school, for me as a high school teacher and coach, I still find myself working to instill the Mira Loma work ethic and confidence in my players’ lives.
“Coach Kundert still lives in the same house near Mira Loma with his wonderful wife, LaVon. Coach is super-supportive of his former players by helping out with Terry Stark (former ML QB and head coach at Inderkum HS), Mike Dimino, and he has spent numerous games on the sidelines with me at Nevada Union. (I only wish he would stop smacking me in the shins with his cane when he sees the right play to call). I appreciate our relationship and friendship over the years, and I certainly cannot thank him enough for all he has given me.”