Archive for Thursday, March 23, 2000

Baseball is Dunaway’s love

March 23, 2000

Jon Dunaway is no stranger to baseball, which was his life for more than 10 years.

It took a real-world job three years as an insurance underwriter for Dunaway to realize just how big a part of his life baseball is.

The 32-year-old teacher is back in the game he loves. He's the new head coach at Eudora High and couldn't be happier.

"I realized that I wanted to be back in education," he said. "I realized that my passion is baseball. It's the one thing that I have always enjoyed doing. And, I have always wanted to see how I would do as a head coach."

A few years as an assistant at Blue Valley High in Stilwell have prepared him for his first head-coaching gig.

"I am excited," he said. "It is a great opportunity to be here."

Dunaway, a math and computer teacher at Eudora Middle School, coached middle school basketball this year.

"I have enjoyed coaching basketball, but I don't know the game like I know baseball," Dunaway said.

He definitely knows the game of baseball. A lot of his experience came between the ages of eight and 20. Each summer, he would pack up and go off to the summer-long Mickey Owen School of Baseball in central Missouri.

Being in the middle of nowhere, as he puts it, there was nothing else to do except live and breathe baseball.

"I would live there from May to August," he said. "We would have a full day of just baseball, from 9:30 in the morning to 10 at night. Then we would have two days off every two weeks. It was a great place to learn a lot. Routine play is what makes one successful."

Dunaway's dream of being a pro ballplayer never materialized. His size may have had lot to do with it. No matter how much he stuck to the diet, he could never got big or strong enough to excel at the next level.

His skills, however, were exceptional, he said.

"If it wasn't for that baseball school, I wouldn't be here doing this," Dunaway said. "I never got tired of it, Baseball was what I wanted to be doing. My frustration was that I never seemed to be able to put on the weight and strength. I had a really good relationship with the people there. I became like part of the family."

Dunaway said some high schools teach players the wrong things. But, so far, he said his players are learning the fundamentals hitting, fielding and throwing.

"In the back of my mind, I am a little nervous," he said. "I really want things to work out. I am comfortable with the baseball part of the job.

The hard part for me is the organization."

Baseball is a large part of Dunaway's life, but not the only thing. He plans to get married this summer to Susan Kunkel, who teaches at a private school in Missouri. Currently the two live in Overland Park. Dunaway said eventually they would like to move to Eudora.

Dunaway is also interested in music. He plays the electric guitar and acoustic guitar, which he has played since the eighth grade.

"It is just a hobby, though," he said.

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