New Charlevoix football coach not the retiring type
Joe Pruchnicki brings 40 years of experience in coaching and education to his new post as the Charlevoix High School football coach. (Steve Foley/News-Review / June 27, 2012)
The 65-year-old has been working pretty much non-stop for nearly six decades, ever since he landed his first job delivering the defunct Detroit Times near his native Flint.
Retired from his teaching and coaching positiond for less than a week at Flat Rock High School, Pruchnicki was named the Charlevoix High School varsity football head coach last week.
"I retired June 8 and just a few days later I was hired," Pruchnicki said. "I feel God must have been looking out for me."
In fact, it was Pruchnicki who was looking out for the Rayders and their football program.
Less than a week after its newly hired head coach Jason Katt of Lowell stepped down amid job-security concerns, Pruchnicki was hired on a 5-2 vote by the Charlevoix school board.
"Originally they went with coach Katt and I coached against him when I was in the Flint area," Pruchnicki said. "I talked to (Katt) when he left (Lowell) to come up here, to be a member of his staff, but then he called me and told me things didn't work out for him and his family. So I called (athletic director) Brian Certa and A led to B and B led to C."
Pruchnicki, who coached the past six seasons at Flat Rock and compiled an 18-36 record including a 3-6 slate last year, said he feels for Katt, who on June 7 announced to Rayder players during a morning weight training session his concerns over his family's financial security had prompted him to walk away from the head coaching position and the high school English teaching position for which the board had approved him in late April.
"I was shocked at first and I feel for him," Pruchnicki said. "He's a great young man and I know he was extremely disappointed when he called me. I feel bad for him. It's a mixed feeling for me because I know he wanted to have the opportunity to be a head coach and I feel disappointed for him."
Pruchnicki, who owns a cabin on Starvation Lake near Mancelona, inherits a Charlevoix team from coach Don Jess, who resigned in December following a nine-year stint during which he guided the Rayders to a 41-44 record, including a 4-5 mark in 2011.
"I had previously interviewed and accepted an assistant job in Gaylord, so I had to pull away from that," Pruchnicki said. "It's an opportunity at my age that I may not get again."
Pruchnicki has some 40 years on his resume in the coaching business and in the classroom, where he taught science and physical education.
He has hit the ground running.
"The town is just beautiful and I'm really excited to be there," he said. "We started our morning lifting and we've had tremendous attendance. We're getting between 25-30 kids every morning and we're starting at 6 a.m.
"As far as football-wise, I really don't know how we'll be because we haven't practiced yet and haven't been in pads or in a passing league yet, but we'll be in a passing league here with them in Petoskey starting Thursday.
"I will know Thursday night more I guess."
What Pruchnicki does know is that the first step in getting things going is winning over the players.
"The biggest thing is getting the players to believe in me as a coach," he said. "It's understanding I have a vision for them and that I'm here for them, and my No. 1 job is to help them become young men and productive citizens off the field. That's why I'm here, for them, primarily."
Charlevoix last made the playoffs in 2009, and it graduated a dozen players off a team that lost three games in 2011 by a touchdown or less.