Kunz accepts coaching position at Mesabi Range College

Former New Ulmite Dave Kunz, who coached the New Ulm Legion Gold baseball team from 1997-06 has accepted an assistant baseball coaching position with Mesabi Range College in Virginia, Minn.

Mesabi Range is a two-year Junior College that plays in the Minnesota Community College Conference (MCCC) and is also a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).

Kunz said that the assistant coaching position came through some old coaching contacts when he was coaching legion baseball in New Ulm.

“I found out that Chris (Vito) had got the head coaching job and through a mutual friend I said that I would be interested in helping out,” he said. “And before I knew it I was an assistant coach at Mesabi.”

Kunz, who teaches in the Eveleth-Gilbert School District, said that he will keep teaching there and help out with baseball coaching after school hours.

He said that Mesabi Range changed its entire baseball coaching staff.

“In fact, Chris got hired as head coach this summer,” Kunz said

Kunz said that the adjustment from coaching legion baseball to college baseball will have some differences.

“Obviously the players are a little older,” Kunz said. “And you have more time to work with the players with individual things. During legion baseball you did not practice a whole lot – you kind of worked on things as you went along. Here you can work with the pitchers on their motion and mechanics, the catcher’s mechanics. You have more time to do that.”

Kunz said that the Norsemen play between 30-40 games and will have a spring trip to Florida in March.

He said that the Mesabi Range baseball team has many local players on the roster but also players from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Canada and from Arizona.

Kunz is also theb District 8 American Legion Baseball Director that includes all of Northeastern Minnesota.

STEEL LOSE FOCUS FRIDAY: When the New Ulm Steel took a 2-0 lead in the first period over first-place Breezy Point, it looked good for the Steel and the 567 fans in attendance.

But those two goals were the last that they scored in a 5-2 loss to the North Stars.

“We just lost our focus,” said forward Cory Martinez, whose goal gave New Ulm a 1-0 lead. “We got thrown out of our mojo a little bit with all of those penalties. I feel that we are at our best when we roll four lines. It is still no excuse because we killed off all of the penalties. We just need to find way to play a full 60-minute game.”

Martinez said that he likes his team to get off to an early lead.

“Score early and often,” he said. “But then you have to learn to play with a lead -we have to bring that grittiness to compete all three periods.”

Martinez said that despite losing three players – two probably for most of the season and one who went back to Sweden – he feels that the Steel is still a very good team.

“We have a lot of good players but we are hurting back on the D [defensive] end with Trevor (Woytcke) out,” Martinez said. “He holds down the fort back there. He is a good defenseman. And it was sad to see Erik (Rainersson) go as he was a very skilled player and was a good contributor. It hurts.

“Different players have different roles,” Martinez said. “And you have to embrace that. Sometimes your role might be not to get scored on and play shutdown hockey. You might play that role one night and the next night you might be with the skilled player.”

“You have to learn from a bad loss and learn from your mistakes,” he said.

The Steel, 9-7 before last night’s game at Granite City, play their next five games on the road before returning home on Saturday, Dec. 3 against a very good Northern Iowa team.

“These next five games are very important,” Martinez said. “It is a long season but no one wants to go on a losing streak. Only the top four (in the division) make the playoffs. Our goal is to win the next five games. These games could be a critical point in the season if we do not figure it out.”

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