George Kunz talks with players after his speech last week. (Lukas Eggen photo)

George Kunz talks with players after his speech last week. (Lukas Eggen photo)

By Lukas Eggen
Ely Times Staff Writer

The White Pine High football team and student council received a special message last Thursday when former NFL player George Kunz spoke to students at White Pine High School.

Kunz, an eight-time pro bowler and former first-team All-American at Notre Dame, hoped to help inspire students not just on the athletic field, but off it as well.

“It’s always a pleasure to come talk to kids because one, it means you’re still alive and secondly, hopefully you can give them some information that helps them,” Kunz said. “The reason you can do that is not because you’re smarter than anybody else, but it’s because you’ve lived longer. Sometimes it’s important that you learn younger because it sets you up to make fewer mistakes. Fewer mistakes means more success and more success means more happiness usually.”

As Kunz addressed the football team and other students, his advice included finding your skills and ensuring you excel at that to help the team.

“If I’m fast, I can break away on a long run,” Kunz said. “If I’m a fullback and in there for two or three yards for a first down, I can keep a drive going. If I’m a defensive back, I can knock the ball down. You have to be good at your skillset. You have to be good at what God gave you.”

And most importantly, don’t quit on your teammates, because that’s the biggest mistake a player can make on the field and in life, Kunz said.

“There’s an assumption that you’re always doing your best,” Kunz said. “If you fail to do your best you fail as a teammate, not because you failed at your assignment, but because you failed at giving it your effort. That’s life. That’s what you learn in athletics.”

Among the other advice Kunz gave students is to take care of your own job, help teammates to identify weaknesses and improve them, let coaches coach and punch the clock.

“When you step on that field, you punch the clock,” Kunz said. “You’re not talking about what you’re going to do on the next date or the car you’re driving to prom…concentrate on what you’re doing on the field.”

NFL guy-cBut just as important as punching the lock is making sure players are working to improve each and every day.

“You walk on that field it’s assumed that you’re going to practice to get better,” Kunz said. “That you’re going to learn something new every day about yourself, about your teammates, about your team, about your capabilities, about your coach…you’re going to learn what you can do more to help the team.”
But it’s not just about improving yourself, Kunz said. Part of being a team player, whether on the field or in the workplace, is helping to improve those around you.

“You’re going to learn what your friend doesn’t do well so you can help him,” Kunz said. “Concentrate on the positives about the individuals you’re working with, recognize weaknesses and help them overcome them. If you can’t do that, you better do something where you just count on yourself.”

As Kunz spoke to students with the hope of giving them advice that can help them long after they leave high school, he also looked to inspire the students to perform their best at whatever they did. And when life throws difficult situations, whether on the field or off it, that’s a chance to prove your worth, Kunz said.

“Life has adversity,” Kunz said. “When something goes bad, someone has to step up and it’s an opportunity for someone to prove themselves and show that you have the skill set necessary to contribute to the team.”