Dearborn Tool and Die maker, Gary Kluczynski coaches girls’ golf and wrestling at his alma mater, Whitmer High school in Toledo as a way to give back and change the lives of youth in his area. “Anytime you have a chance to positively impact youth, do it,” said Kluczynski. “You’ll see the reward in having more pleasant workplaces, neighborhoods and schools.”
Kluczynski began coaching right out of high school at his rival school after 3 years of wrestling. He believes wrestling teaches determination, sacrifice, and accountability. It fosters healthy competition, with the thought that someone is always going to train harder and you cannot win them all. “It taught me that hard work does pay off,” says Kluczynski.
With 13 years of coaching experience, he understands why being a good coach is so important and how much sports influence the rest of an athlete’s life. After a 10-year break, Kluczynski returned coaching once is daughters entered high school. Helping one of his daughters find confidence on the golf course turned into an opportunity to help other girls and he now coaches the wrestling team as well.
When he ran into one of his former wrestlers, who is now a principal, Kluczynski was invited to coach for the school year. Shortly after coaching both teams, he soon realized how much he missed the mat and the kids.
Eight seasons in, Gary says there is no way he’s stopping anytime soon. Golf and wrestling are individualized team sports that heavily rely on each player to meet their personal best as it affects the score of the entire team. “It’s more than teamwork, it’s about having discipline and how that level of self-control and commitment carries on throughout the rest of their lives,” said Kluczynski.
He spends an average of about # hours a week with students. That breaks down to 3 hours a day during the week and more than 20 hours on the weekends. “I certainly don’t do it for the money; if you take the time to break it down, coaches probably get paid .80 cents an hour.” Kluczynski says it’s about the bonds you made with these children and their families. “Anytime they see me, they don’t call me Gary, they call me Coach.”
Some of his past athletes have gone on to do amazing things. Toledo just signed one of its first female wrestlers, a young woman from Kluczynski’s team and another one of his former athletes now serves as an administrator for Toledo Public Schools. “Everything we teach our athletes transitions into being a better person, more disciplined, being a better student, a better athlete, a better employee, and encourages them to pay it forward.”
“You hear so many bad things about high school kids now-a-days and I don’t believe them to be true,” says Kluczynski “Now I’m no teacher, so I don’t see it all; but kids just need someone to take the time pour into them.”
Giving back and putting people first translates into his work as an ERT first responder and is a shining example of how our company obsesses about the wants and needs of people to drive human progress.