A 1976 Emory & Henry graduate, John Kuczko is no stranger to the culture that surrounds Wasp baseball, let alone the area in general.
Kuczko met his wife at E&H and ultimately married her. Kuczko moved to Abingdon to pursue a coaching career in baseball at Abingdon High School. With experience from Honaker High School and J.J. Kelly High School under his belt, Kuczko coached and built a relationship with a player that would stand the test of time; a player that would essentially become an Abingdon baseball legend.
Kuczko coached at Abingdon High School for seven years (’81-’88), he witnessed current E&H head Baseball Coach, Trey McCall, grow and develop into the player who became one of E&H’s most distinguishable athletes.
When McCall graduated from Abingdon High School in 1985, Kuczko packed his bags and moved to Norton to become Norton High School’s Head Football Coach for several years.
After Kuczko’s Norton era ended, he ventured back to E&H to assist Coach Lou Wacker’s thriving football program (’94-’96) and would eventually begin an 18-year career coaching football and teaching at UVA-Wise.
Kuczko has stayed in contact with McCall through the years. Kuczko retired from UVA-Wise and felt an urge to be back where blue and gold flourished, “Trey told me if I ever retired and was interested in getting back into baseball, he’d love to have me help him at Emory,” said Kuczko. With a chance encounter at the Abingdon Kroger, Kuczko approached McCall about a coaching position at E&H. “I said ‘Hey! The time has come if you still want me’ and he said ‘Sure’,” said Kuczko.
Subsequently, Kuczko acquired a Health and Wellness teaching position at E&H and joined the baseball coaching staff this past fall.
“If you can find a job that you love doing, it’s not really a job; if you’re fortunate enough to do that and you’re making enough money to pay the bills, but you actually love what you’re doing then you don’t consider it a job. I think that’s the way [McCall] is and it’s the same way I am,” said Kuczko.
In coaching McCall at the high school level, Kuczko displays much admiration 40 years later for what McCall is doing with the E&H Baseball program.
“We have 42 players, which is a large number for a baseball team, but to have that many players in a D3 baseball program says a lot about Coach McCall and Coach Schaffner. It’s just amazing to me that we have that many people on this baseball team and we give everybody attention and the amount of time that they need to develop, and again that’s just an attribute to [McCall] and his organization,” said Kuczko.
With the season in full swing, Coach McCall is grateful for the presence Kuczko provides to the players. “He’s very jovial, and he brings a great atmosphere to the team and you can tell the difference he makes with the guys,” said McCall.
Now coaching alongside McCall, Kuczko’s attitude toward the program is nothing but encouraging.
“My role is to accomplish whatever needs doing. If I can do something on the field that frees up time for [McCall] to organize a little bit better, recruit a little bit more, then I feel like I’m contributing.”
– Andrew Davis