Behind every good team is good coach, and as for Southmoreland, two of the most successful teams, last year’s WPIAL softball champions and the volleyball team, which has made back-to-back playoff appearances and recently were winners of the Mapletown and West Greene tournaments. The dynamic coaching duo of Kristy and Todd Bunner has changed the success of two sports program for Southmoreland, and they have made school history and continuously make the close knit town of Scottdale proud.
“My parents have always been so supportive so almost everything they say to me reminds me that I am loved, that I am supported, and that I am giving my best effort regardless of the outcome,” explained eldest daughter, Brianna Bunner.
From their three children to their players, it is shown that both Todd and Kristy Bunner instill a sense of support and confidence in everyone they coach.
“(Coach Kristy) doesn’t look at her team as a team, she looks at us as a family, her own family actually,” said sophomore volleyball player Emma Mullett. “She makes time for each of us. Say she’s having a bad day and so is one of her players. She will put her problem aside to her the player out.”
Senior softball player Lexi Klatt remincises about a time Coach Todd put her in to pitch, which is not her normal position.
“He looked at me and told me that he has complete faith in me,” Klatt said. “He’s been nothing but a support system for me.”
What sets this coaching duo apart from other coaches in the school is their readiness for the next game or season. They want their teams to accomplish as much as they strive for, whether that be qualifying for states or winning a tournament. After Coach Todd Bunner’s softball team won the WPIAL championship last year and made school history, he was ready for the next game.
“My plan is to work harder than ever before,” Coach Todd said about the upcoming season. He insists on his team working harder and leaving the big victory in the past so his players don’t carry large egos and underestimate their opponents.
Like her husband, Coach Kristy, when speaking about her greatest coaching accomplishment, said that it lies “in the future. We will continue to learn and improve, and maintain our passion for the game.”
A good coach doesn’t bask in victory, but rather makes it happen again. They grow from losing and winning, while some grow from just winning.
Coach Todd said that during a losing streak, he tries to “stay positive and demand the players do the same.”
A constant positive environment gives players the relaxation they need to strive for their best every time. They will become one with errors and be able to shake them off instead of letting them defeat them.
The couple’s youngest daughter, Bethany, points out that her parents are devoted to the sports in which they coach.
“My mom will look up drills on her lunch break from work, and my dad is always looking up how to make the game fun. They never take a break,” said Bethany Bunner.
There is no denying that these two coaches put their hearts into their sport, their team, and their players. When a coach’s heart is in the hands of their players, you see nothing from them but success. This is exactly how Southmoreland volleyball and softball team have seen so much success over the past few years with Kristy and Todd Bunner as the history making coaches behind the two programs.
“My coaching philosophy is to empower the team, creating ownership and accountability,” said Coach Kristy.
“Accountability can possibly often is one of the most vital things that a lot of teams lack. It allows you to move on from mistakes and allows the individual player to want to succeed for their teammates rather than just themselves. It creates unity between teammates that is the foundation of a good team. This tactic is something that seems to play a role in both the coaches handbook.”
“I like to empower the players to make good decisions and be responsible for those decisions,” said Coach Todd.
The word “empower” stands out in both coaches minds when they speak about their philosophy. Their goal is to “empower” their athletes with the things they need to be successful in each sport they play.
Coach Kristy emphasizes always having a Plan B for when things aren’t going exactly as planned for her team. On any given day, the tables could turn, but the winner of any game is almost always the team who comes most prepared for anything.
“It’s more important to be prepared for an opportunity and not have the opportunity present itself then to have the opportunity and not be prepared,” she said.
This key attribute is apparent for both coaches.
The softball team lost twice to South Park last year and consistently throughout the years; however, when it counted, Southmoreland was prepared for South Park in the WPIAL game just as much as they were prepared for them to play their hardest and defeated the defending state champs in a rout, 12-1.
“I always tell them to not overlook the opponent we are playing that day, give your best effort and don’t wish you would have done something more on the field,” said Coach Todd.
Coaching often is about taking a player where they can’t go themselves. It’s about believing in them, being proud of their success, and watching them grow as a person and athlete. It’s about continuing to work until there is no obstacle your team can’t tackle. These are all the attributes that Todd and Kristy Bunner bring to two very special Southmoreland sport teams.