Being a high school football coach is far more than proper on-field technique, conditioning drills and scheming X’s and O’s. To its core high school coaching is about becoming a positive role model, a motivator and at times, a mentor for teenagers dealing with the usual ups and downs of life.
Valley Christian knew Kirk Sundberg checked all those boxes when he was named the sixth head coach in program history back in February. In short, the Trojans needed a re-boot after back-to-back 3-7 seasons and school officials believed the former Valor Christian High School (CO) offensive coordinator, who helped win five state championships while coaching a number of high-profile college players including former Stanford great Christian McCaffrey, was the perfect fit.
After the school flew him in for his second interview, he agreed.
“The people here are incredible,” Sundberg said to Sports360AZ.com. “The community is really, really cool. It’s very genuine. They cared for me and my family right from the get-go.”
The early returns on invest for the Trojans have been positive, as well. Valley Christian, now 5-3 after Friday’s 35-13 win over Paradise Honors, has already eclipsed their win total from the last two seasons (3-7 in both 2016 and 2017), knocking off 3A heavyweights Yuma Catholic and Odyssey Institute along the way.
Trojans pick up a big Homecoming win over #1 Odyssey Institute, 35-12.
Valley Christian improves to 4-3 on the year and will host Paradise Honors next Friday at Benson Field. pic.twitter.com/KAhoqzb8vr
— Valley Christian Athletics (@vctrojans) October 6, 2018
Sundberg’s philosophy and style, both on and off the field, have blended well with his team.
“His main theme was, ‘pump the well,'” senior running back/cornerback Nathan Dyksta explained to Sports360AZ.com. “When you start pumping a well, you don’t get water right away, you start with a drip. That was our goal every week to just keep pumping the well and keep getting more out of ourselves and what we can do.”
Away from football Sundberg’s main focus is molding his student-athletes into better people and zeroing in on the big picture.
“Off the field he tries to build us up as men of Christ,” junior two-way star Vinnie LaGatta said to Sports360AZ.com. “I think that’s the number one thing. He does a great job of it.”
Lastly, he’s enjoying desert life, a far cry and much different pace than the seasonal weather and high altitude of the Rocky Mountains.
“Oh man, people are going to think I’m soft, it’s rough,” Sundberg said laughing. “It’s hot man. It absolutely was a transition…I’m excited for the winter and the adventures that will bring.”
The same can certainly be said for his 3A Metro West Region-leading football team, as well.