From the Summer 2012 issue of Tableaux, Fontbonne's alumni magazine.
by Jamie Sokolik
The athletic experience at Fontbonnne is special. Coaches are supportive of players on and off the field, and teams are almost always tightly knit groups who spend time together outside of practice and play cohesively during the game.
It’s no surprise that many Fontbonne student-athletes go on to coach teams of their own, and they often look for guidance and inspiration from their time playing at their alma mater. We caught up with three former standout student-athletes at Fontbonne who went on to coach winning teams of their own.
Kevin Walsh '95
Head Basketball Coach,
St. John Vianney High School
Many graduates are still trying to figure out their career paths well after college. But Kevin Walsh knew exactly what his future held from the time he was a senior at St. John Vianney High School, an all-boys Catholic prep school in
St. Louis County.
“I wanted to be a high school teacher and a basketball coach,” Walsh, 38, said. With these two goals in mind, Walsh found that Fontbonne was the perfect place to pursue both. “I still wanted to be part of a basketball team in college, and I wanted to be involved in a rigorous education program. Fontbonne offered both opportunities.”
Walsh enrolled at Fontbonne at an interesting time for basketball. During his freshman year, the team practiced at Concordia Seminary, but by the time he was a sophomore, the Dunham Student Activity Center had opened and gave the team a home. During his junior and senior years, the Griffins won back-to-back conference titles. But for Walsh, the best part of being on the team was his teammates and his coach.
“It was more than a team. It was a brotherhood,” he said. “We had talented players but also really good guys who got along well and played well together.”
Walsh is now a teacher and head basketball coach at his former high school. Although all of his past coaches, from little league to collegiate ball, have influenced him greatly, his Fontbonne coach, the late Dr. Lee McKinney, had a profound impact on his life and his coaching style.
“When I think about Coach, I don’t think about drills at practice or plays we ran,” he said. “He wanted to know what was going on in our lives. You couldn’t keep a secret from Coach. That’s something I try to instill in my own teams, and it actually carries over to the court. The better you know someone, the easier it is to motivate them.”
And motivation was not a problem for the 2011–2012 Vianney Basketball Griffins. They were ranked first in the state of Missouri and ranked nationally as well. They won the Meramec Holiday Tournament and their first Metro Catholic Conference championship on their way to finishing the year with a record of 27–2. Although he’s proud of his team’s many accomplishments on the court, Walsh is even prouder of them off the court.
“We had a great group of young men who played the game the right way — they played hard and they played unselfishly,” Walsh said. “That made them very special to coach.”
Nicole Moyer '05
Head Boys and Girls Tennis Coach,
Fort Zumwalt West
When it came time for Nicole Moyer to choose a college, she had three requirements: she wanted to go to school in St. Louis; she wanted to enroll in a strong, well-respected education program; and she wanted to play volleyball at the college level. When Moyer looked into Fontbonne’s education program, she found that the university could give her even more than she had hoped. She was excited that Fontbonne offered a strong Christian foundation, and that she would be able to play both volleyball and tennis — something she had always wanted to do in high school but couldn’t because the seasons overlapped.
“Fontbonne is such a neat place,” the 29-year-old said. “It was perfect for me academically, athletically and spiritually.”
During the years Moyer spent on the volleyball team, they won four conference titles and made four NCAA tournament appearances. She was named Second Team All-Conference, SLIAC Newcomer of the Year, First Team All-Conference, and SLIAC Player of the Year. Despite all of the accolades, Moyer mostly remembers enjoying time spent with her teammates.
“My favorite part of being on the team was the camaraderie we shared,” she said. “We all got along. We were always supportive of each other, and we always had a blast.”
After she graduated, Moyer was hired as a math teacher at Fort Zumwalt West in St. Charles, Mo., and had no plans to coach. When a colleague approached her about taking over the school’s tennis team, she hesitantly agreed.
“It turned out to be the best decision I could have made,” she said. Moyer now coaches the girls team in the fall and the boys team in the spring. “I have a blast. The kids are great and so much fun to work with.”
Moyer was inducted into the SLIAC Hall of Fame on May 15, 2012. She was recognized for her exceptional performance and the many honors she received for the Griffin volleyball team. As a coach today, Moyer frequently thinks back to her days hitting the courts at Fontbonne.
“My Fontbonne coaches taught me that we’re not there just to teach a sport; we are there to teach lessons about life,” she said. “We teach how to overcome adversity, work together, stay dedicated, maintain confidence and work hard. Not just on the court, but in life.”
Tom Guinn '05
Head Mens and Womens Soccer Coach,
Springfield Catholic High School
When Tom Guinn arrived at Fontbonne on his first day, he knew one thing for sure.
“I wanted to play soccer,” he said.
In his first year as a Griffin, he made 2nd Team All-Conference. As a sophomore, he was captain of the team and made 2nd Team All-Conference again. In his senior year, the team won the SLIAC Conference Championship and competed in the NCAA Division III National Soccer Tournament.
Guinn, the son of Mary Guinn, manager of Fontbonne's business office, was busy academically, too.
“I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my communication studies degree,” Guinn, 30, said. “I looked into a new sports management program, and I was really impressed. After that, I thought it would be beneficial to double major.”
While in school, Guinn also worked part-time at a gym in Oakville, Mo. One of the gym members knew about his soccer background and asked if he’d like to coach his son’s club soccer team. Coincidentally, it was
nearing time for Guinn to choose an internship for his sports management degree, so he spoke with his
advisor and got the green light.
“I felt at home coaching,” he said. “It didn’t feel like work. I had found something that I was good at and
loved doing.” But, until one of his professors mentioned it, it still hadn’t occurred to him that he could make a
career out of coaching.
“The faculty and staff at Fontbonne played a major role in helping me find a career I’m passionate about. They really helped shapemy future.”
After graduating with dual degrees, Guinn immediately enrolled in Fontbonne’s graduate education program where he simultaneously earned a master’s degree and teaching certification. After he graduated, he began his career at Oakville High School as a soccer coach.
Today, Guinn is the head coach of the mens team and assistant coach for womens soccer at Springfield Catholic High School in Springfield, Mo. In addition to coaching, he teaches physical education at Immaculate Conception Elementary School, which feeds into the high school. In his first year coaching, the boys team won its first-ever state championship — the first time a team from Southwest Missouri had taken the title.
Guinn is proud of his teams’ accomplishments, but he doesn’t measure success in titles alone. “My Fontbonne coaches really showed me the importance of viewing the team as an extension of the classroom,” he said. “What is expected of you within the school is also expected of you during all soccer-related activities. I try to give my team the same message. It’s such an important concept.”