Coaching came natural to Ted Zuzzio.
“I went from the little guy riding the team bus and sitting on the end of the bench to playing sports then to coaching sports,” Zuzzio said. “My dad was a coach for so many years and I was just around it.”
Zuzzio, a 1971 Humboldt High School graduate, was named the 2011 Women’s Outdoor Track and Field National Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Zuzzio has coached the Baldwin High School girls’ track and field team since graduating from Pittsburg State.
This spring’s track season will be Zuzzio’s 36th at the helm of the BHS girls’ team. The Bulldog girls are two-time defending Kansas Class 4A state track champions.
“This is a tremendous honor. It came out of the blue this week,” Zuzzio told the Register in a telephone interview. “As a coach, your focus is on the kids, not winning awards for yourself.”
Last summer, Zuzzio was selected as Kansas All Classes Head Women’s Track and Field Coach of the Year for 2011. He said he had been “bugged several times” by the state coaches association to fill out a NFHS questionnaire. He said he finally did in October.
“They asked about coaching record, community service, involvement in other school activities, local, state and national organizations and your philosophy of coaching,” Zuzzio said. “I filled it out and sent it in and forgot about it.”
Well, Monday it came to his attention again. Baldwin High was notified with a letter of Zuzzio’s national award. He will be honored at the Kansas All Class State Track and Field Championship Meet in Wichita in May.
Zuzzio was a three-sport letterman at Humboldt High School where his father Tony was a teacher and a coach. His father and mother, Eileen, are deceased.
“Dad was a coach for 34 years and was a mentor to me. Coach (Don)Walburn and Coach (Frank) Hemphill also were great influences on me,” Zuzzio said. “We had a lot of success in athletics while I was growing up and playing at Humboldt.”
Zuzzio competed in football, basketball and track for Humboldt High. He played American Legion baseball in the summers.
Zuzzio played basketball and was a javelin thrower for Allen County Community College in 1971-72. He transferred to Pittsburg State and was on the football team.
“I signed on at Baldwin High School as an assistant football and assistant boys’ basketball coach. Midway through the football season, they came to me and said, ‘we really need you as the head girls’ basketball and girls’ track coach,” Zuzzio said.
“We were 19-2 that first year in girls’ basketball and I had a state champion in hurdles. I was hooked coaching the girls’ sports.”
Zuzzio’s track teams have won 15 Frontier League titles, 20 regional championships and two state titles. He pointed to the 20 regional track championships as a matter of pride for him as a coach.
“For me as a coach, I’ve always been about putting each kids in a position to have success. I’ve always had good kids here who were willing to work hard and compete. I’ve also had good assistant coaches throughout the years. Our parents here are very supportive of our programs.”
Zuzzio began his teaching career as a woodworking instructor at Baldwin High, which he taught for 20 years. The past 15 years he has taught physical education and health at Baldwin Middle School – sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
He also was the girls’ head basketball coach for 20 years. Zuzzio took the Bulldogs to state nine times and won a 4A state championship in 1996, finished second three times and fourth once.
“It’s pretty exciting to watch the kids have success. That doesn’t men just wins but watching them improve each day and work hard.
“I’ve been fortunate to be here in Baldwin all these years. It’s a great location and the community is tremendous. Humboldt has one stop light and a golf course with sand greens. Baldwin has one stop light and a golf course with sand greens.”
Zuzzio and his wife, Karen, raised a family in Baldwin. Their daughter Stacy, who was a member of the state championship basketball team and a “very good runner” for the track team, lives in Kansas City, Kan.
The Zuzzio’s son, Tony, is married and lives in Baldwin. Zuzzio said they have one grandson “who is five and has his first basketball game this Saturday.”
“I’m getting up there (near retirement age) but I have so much fun with the track teams that I don’t want to walk away from it yet.”
Baldwin High sure doesn’t want him to walk away yet either. The BHS girls are going after that third straight state track title and need the man in charge.
Coaching came natural to Ted Zuzzio.