Troubadour Archives: Looking back on the legacy of Franciscan’s legendary coach

Kuzma: A lead we can follow

This article was originally published in Volume LIX, No. 25 of The Troubadour, Sunday, May 1, 2005

Former Editor-in-Chief

“Don’t embarrass your family or your parents or grandparents or your school.”

Second only to hard work, this principle seems to be a guiding force of Hank Kuzma’s life. And it has served him well – well enough to make him an inductee into eight halls of fame in the Ohio/Pennsylvania region, and well enough that the fame and respect he achieved as a basketball coach and educator over the past 50-some years has made his a face that is recognized warmly by friends and associates alike.

As coach of the College of Steubenville Barons basketball team when the school was still sprawled about downtown Steubenville, “Coach” Kuzma led the team to become the No. 1 small college team in the nation in 1958. Named the top coach, he went on to continue his success as a coach, teacher and administrator at the high school and college level. After returning to Franciscan in the late 70s, Kuzma transitioned into various alumni- and development-related jobs for the university after the sports program was dropped in 1981, and to this day he continues to diligently seek out potential donors and benefactors for the university and other organizations in the area.

On May 15, the Steubenville resident will be presented with an honorary doctorate from Franciscan University, alongside EWTN news director Raymond Arroyo and other leaders.

His work ethic, to some, may seem old-fashioned, but it has been tried and found true – a great deal of dedication, discipline, honesty and innovation, added to a sincere gratitude for the blessings in his life. Family members, former players and associates not the little letters of encouragement and gratitude, his ongoing personal communication and even the memories of gatherings at his house hosted by Kuzma and his wife, Kay. It’s that personal touch that really gives a Franciscan flavor to this “legend” of the university.

In a spirit that echoes St. Francis’ “Up to now we have done nothing” mode of action, when Kuzma say he can’t remember some detail of his past, he quickly follows with, “I’m always looking ahead.”

“He always feels everyone can do more,” said Carol Kirkendall, his long-time secretary. He’s always asking, “What more can we do to help?”

As graduation and the end of the current Troubadour’s editorial board draws near, Kuzma’s example offers a refreshing testimony of the correlation between a tireless commitment to high moral standards, a deep appreciation for the value of the person and success.

His is a lead we can follow.