Bunde calls it quits on the gridiron after 27 years

Rod Bunde

Valley Falls football coach Rod Bunde


by Clarke Davis
The Valley Falls school board accepted the resignation of Rod Bunde as the head high school football coach at the January meeting.
Bunde came to Valley Falls 27 years ago and has been the head coach all but four of those years.
His only reason for stepping down, he said, is to gain some time off to devote to his family. For a coach, the football season is all-consuming.
“It’s seven days a week to do the  job,” he said.
Besides his classroom duties teaching two biology classes and one anatomy class, he is also the athletic director and has a conditioning class.
Coaching the 2A squad had its peaks and valleys, he said. The overall 94-120 win-loss record contained those peaks and valleys including an 8-1 season in 2000 and a 0-9 season in 2006.
The 2015 year was the last season for 11-man football as the school will play eight-man starting this fall. Bunde agrees it is necessary.
“We have a sophomore class with only five boys in it,” he said. “Not five out for football, that’s the total number of boys in the class.”
With a small squad, the team only needs a few injuries and it doesn’t have enough to field a team. He belives in two or three years it will return to 11-man again.
Those four years he did not coach high school he was with the junior high team, two years as an assistant coach and two as the head coach.
For Bunde, the payoff for the coach on the high school level is to see the growth in the players over a long period.
“There’s a lot to cover in football and you see that growth over a period of four years,” he said.
A teacher also sees many of the same attributes that make a good sportsman transfer to the classroom.
“Naturally there’s kids who will succeed more on the field than in the classroom but their success on the field helps them in the classroom,” Bunde said.
Football and sports in general, he believes, are a good motivator and give them something to look forward to.
The Dragons made it to the playoffs eight times during Bunde’s tenure as head coach. He recalled the 2000 season when they were undefeated until meeting Centralia. It was the closest they came to going to state.
That was the last year they allowed only one team from the district to advance. From that year forward they allowed two to go.
Bunde recalls the down years as still producing positive results. In 2006 the “injury bug” hit the team that went 0 and 9 and made only two touchdowns the entire year.
“The kids still had a great attitude and kept working,” he said. “They showed the courage to keep moving forward.”
Bunde said the district has been very supportive of the football program during his tenure.
“It’s an expensive sport,” he said.
Work has continued over the years to develop a better field. New lights in recent years have  helped.
The coach recalled how dark the end zones used to be and remembered that there was once a baseball field on one end of the football field.
“I  kept planting grass in the endzone every year and they wondered why there was grass growing in their infield,” he said.
Bunde, 51, is a south Dakota native whose family moved a lot. He graduated from Topeka West High School and went to the University of Kansas on a football scholarship. He’d had a bone fracture in his back his junior year of high school and had another one his second year at KU, causing him to give up football. He left KU after three years.
He and his wife, Ruby, were married and moved to South Dakota where they attended South Dakota State for a year. They returned to Topeka and both graduated from Washburn University.
The couple has four children, Ridge, who is in law enforcement at Kansas University, Rebekah, who is employed in sports medicine in Portland, Ore., Riley, pursuing a master’s degree and employed by Kearney Construction, Valley Falls, and Reid, a Kansas State University student. Ridge and Riley are married.
Ruby is a registered nurse who just left employment at the Valley Falls Medical Clinic to work for Blue Cross Blue Shield.

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Posted by on Feb 9 2016. Filed under The Vindicator. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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