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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

Letter to the Editor

Search for new football coach complete

Since the 2002 season which saw the FC football program go 11-1, the Eagles have slipped to mediocrity, producing a 3-27 record over the past three years.

“We felt that it was time to provide a new voice for our football program,” athletic director Chris Schultz said. “We had hit a wall that we didn’t think could be fixed from within. So we set our sights on someone who would be the right fit for our school as well as help us move beyond our current state as a program.”

Fresh off a disappointing 0-10 (2007) season, FC came into the off-season seeking a solution for the program.

“We were looking for a specific type of coach,” Schultz said. “We needed a coach with past success, who could come in and breathe life into our program.”

Enter 1991 Yosemite High graduate and former Madera South defensive coordinator, Bonner Cunnings. This is a man who walks around wearing a giant 2002 CIF championship ring on his finger. A man who was on the coaching staff of a 45-7 Badgers team during his nine-year stint at Yosemite, and is according to Schultz, “a proven coach.”

“I want to lead my players by example,” Cunnings said. “Not telling them to ‘get going,’ but instead, ‘follow me.’ I hope to lead not only with my voice, but also with my actions.”

Cunnings steps in to replace 7-year coach Jon Hall, who resigned in December, with high hopes to jump-start the football program.

After high school, Cunnings went on to play tailback at St. Mary’s Collage in Moraga, CA, where he rushed for 1,689 yards over his four years there.

Starting his coaching career as a varsity assistant under Aaron Eames, at Yosemite, Cunnings also served as JV head coach, varsity offensive line coach, and strength and conditioning trainer during his nine years with the Badgers.

During a four-year run, the school captured three league championships, and two CIF titles, and was ranked No. 1 in California for Division III.

Though hiring a coach who “knows how to succeed” was high on his list, Schultz says that finding someone with a solid relationship with God was even more important.

“I wanted a guy who I knew was going to have a very deep Christian faith,” Schultz said. “Someone that understands that coaches can sometimes have a greater impact on teenagers than even parents. This guy loves God, loves kids, and wants to bring out the best in them.”

Cunnings says his God-given gift and purpose on this earth is to motivate and rejuvenate athletes, inspiring them to push forward to accomplish their goals and aspirations.

“I was put on this earth to lead young people, and football and athletics are a way for me to do this,” Cunnings said. “Everyone has different ways in which they lead, but for me it’s football.”

As Schultz has stressed many times throughout the year, FC stands in need of a new strength and conditioning program, not just for football players, but for all athletes. Designing and maintaining this new program is part of Cunnings’ job.

“Bonner’s background in strength and conditioning was another factor for us in the selection process,” Schultz said. “While we will expect him to coordinate our football program, he will also be required to help all of our student-athletes develop the kind of physical skills necessary to compete at a high level. This is a vital aspect to our athletic program’s growth.”

Cunnings’ new strength and conditioning program will feature a unique blend of Olympic lifting and body control training designed to optimize the athlete’s chances for success.

“Functional strength that develops athletic ability will be the focus of my program,” Cunnings said. “The foundation and main focus will be nutrition and athletic movement along with gymnastics and lifting. If they (athletes) will only buy into my program, our teams will see a great improvement in not only strength and conditioning, but also on the scoreboard.”

Cunnings hopes to inject the campus with excitement for next year’s football squad and the entire athletic program in general by the end of the semester.

“If the athletes are patient and willing to put in the time, they will see a change begin to happen,” Cunnings said. “Part of my job is to keep people pumped up. I want to increase the excitement around the sports programs, because I know how important they are to the overall success of the school.”

Though he has no previous experience as a head coach of a football program, Cunnings hopes to work through the first-year difficulties with the help of God, and leave behind a Christ-like legacy.

“I have been waiting eagerly my whole life to be the head football coach at a school, because I know what kind of impact I could have on kids,” Cunnings said. “I want to portray Christ-like masculinity on campus, because I think the world is failing at that. I want people 2-3 years down the road to say coach Cunnings is a loving, compassionate, energetic, and motivating person who has encouraged young people to make the most of their abilities and talents.”

Even with a busy schedule, Cunnings embraces his roles as husband, father, teacher and coach. He and Hannah, his wife of eight years have four kids: Lilly (7), Bladen (6), Bodee(4) and Brock(2).

“God always comes first in my life,” Cunnings said. “After that my priorities are family, church, school, and football, in that order. It can sometimes be very difficult to balance all of these things, but I love my life. It brings me great joy to do all of these things.”

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