Coach Profile: Harrisonville Asst. Zach Cunningham 4/8
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Zach Cunningham’s journey from high school football player to high school football coach is not new. The Harrisonville assistant played at a good program, moved to college and then went into teaching and coaching the sport he loves.
Along the way Cunningham has had the opportunity to be coached by and work with some of the top coaches in the Metro. He went to high school at Blue Springs where he finished his career as a starting defensive back on the Wildcats’ 2003 state championship team. From there he played at William Jewell College before becoming a teacher.
As a teacher and coach he has been at William Chrisman for one year and at Harrisonville for the last five seasons. Cunningham has coached the position he played in high school and college, defensive back and had the chance to work with one of his former high school coaches Mike Spotts when Spotts was the head coach at Chrisman.
Cunningham said he has been influenced by all of the coaches he has played for and worked with in his career.
“I have had the rare opportunity to work under tremendous coaches in my short career,” Cunningham said. “I have been able to play and coach for local greats such as Kelly Donohoe, Mike Spotts, Chuck Lliteras, and even Greg Jones in the All-Star Game.
“I have tried to take a little something from every coach to help shape my career and the way I choose to do things. The two biggest influences would have to be Chuck Lliteras and his un-paralleled knowledge of strength and conditioning that I have been fortunate to learn under. The other would be Greg Jones and the way he runs his program. I use the phrase “Attitude & Effort” all the time, and I stole that from Coach Jones.”
The relationships with other coaches has shaped Cunningham’s career and he tries to focus on that side of coaching with his players.
“There are so many aspects of coaching that I love, but the biggest would have to be the relationships that we get to form every year and every day,” Cunningham said. “If you look at every successful coach, one of the best things they are able to do is build a relationship with every player on their team and I try to model that characteristic. There is no better feeling than seeing a player or student give maximum effort and accomplish something they thought wasn’t possible. It is life changing for them and myself.
“My coaching philosophy is to get the most out of my players both on and off the field. There are many lessons and skills that our young men take with them throughout their life that go beyond wins and losses. It is my duty to show them that with sacrifice, discipline, and teamwork that anything is possible. Have a positive attitude every day, give maximum effort, and you can’t go wrong.”
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