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Miege hires a real pro

Leaven staff

ROELAND PARK — He’s a big, big guy — 6 feet 2 inches, 290 pounds — so it’s no surprise that former Chiefs center Tim Grunhard made a big impact on the playing field.
Now, as the new head football coach, Grunhard has big plans for Bishop Miege High Schoolin Roeland Park.
“We have one goal, and that is to win the state championship, one goal,” said Grunhard during his Feb. 3 introductory press conference at Miege. “It’s not to win a conference, it’s not to win a game, it’s not to beat a certain rival. We will shoot for the stars. We will win state championships at Bishop Miege High School. ”
With these bold, passionately stated goals, the Grunhard era began at Bishop Miege High School. Following the press conference, Grunhard had a private, introductory meeting with his players.
People who are familiar with the Kansas City sports scene know Grunhard as one of the most widely known and respected players on the Kansas City Chiefs club during the 1990s. During the 11 years he wore Number 61 for the Chiefs, Grunhard was a starting center and anchor for his team.
Following his retirement from pro football in 2000, he concentrated on working as a radio sports commentator, and served as an assistant coach at Pius X High School in Kansas City, Mo.
Grunhard, his wife Sarah, and their four children — two boys, C.J. and Colin; and two girls, Cailey and Cassie — are members of St. Ann Parish in Prairie Village. His mother, Charlotte, is also a parishioner.
“Tim is really a man with a big heart,” said his pastor, Msgr. Vince Krische, who led the opening prayer at the press conference. “He is a man of integrity and character, courage, and a great sense of humor. He’s willing to help whenever he can.”
Grunhard often attends daily Mass with this mother and is very involved in St. Ann School ’s PTO and fall festival.
“He’s a well-read person, has spiritual depth, personality, and great insight,” said Msgr. Krische. “He has an outgoing personality. He’s going to be a great coach, not only for Miege, but for the whole Catholic school system. ”
It wasn’t just his considerable football credentials that won Grunhard the job, but his strong Catholic background.
 Grunhard was born and raised in a Catholic family on Chicago’s South Side. He attended Bishop John Fisher School, St. Laurence High School in Burbank, Ill., and the University of Notre Dame, where he graduated in 1990. While at Notre Dame, he was part of the undefeated team that won the national championship in 1988.
Grunhard went on to become a        second-round draft pick for the Kansas City Chiefs after graduation. He started 164 games — more than all but two other players in the team’s history.
So, sports — football in particular — has always been a big  part of his life. As the new Miege head coach, it will continue to be so.
But two things are more important, he said. His family and his God.
“My faith is much more important than sports,” he said. “It’s the way I’ve lived and the way I was raised. I think my devotion to our Blessed Mother and my faith have taken me to places I never thought I ’d be able to go.”
When Bishop Miege administrators began looking for someone to replace head football coach Dan Ritter, they wanted someone who was the embodiment of football and faith. Grunhard fit the bill.
“His work as a Kansas City Chief and radio host was very impressive, but that’s not what impressed us the most, and is not the ultimate reason why we’re so excited about him joining the Bishop Miege family,” said president Dr. Joe Passantino.
“It is his experience and belief in Catholic education that really impressed us,” he said. “He is a product of a Catholic grade school, high school and college. That, along with his involvement in his parish, clearly demonstrates the value that he places on faith development as a key component — not just to football, but to life in general.”
In his introductory press conference, Grunhard said he would try to accomplish three things. Winning the state championship was one of them.
“We will obtain and cultivate Bishop Miege-type of people,” he said. “That’s something special. Always will be special. It was something special in the past, it ’s special now, and it will be special when I leave here hopefully many years from now. ”
He also vowed to build a team with character.
“We will build character; we will build men,” he said. “It’s a calling, like Monsignor [Krische] has a calling, to be part of the Catholic school educational process. I was called. There were a lot of different opportunities I had in this off- season, but one kept popping back in: Bishop Miege, Bishop Miege. I was called, and you ’re being called, too.”
While some might consider more than a decade in the NFL as the pinnacle of a player ’s career, Grunhard is one player glad to have the chance to be both a role model for and mentor to young men.
“I’ve had my glory and my fame; I’ve had all that,” he said. “That’s great. But to me, it’s important now to show kids how important it is to be a person who, when they wear our colors, people will say ‘There’s a Bishop Miege kid.’
“When you work with a kid and he does something that he thought he couldn’t do, there’s no better reward when you look in his face, and the light bulb goes on,” he said. “That’s what coaching kids is all about.”
Coach Grunhard will not teach at Miege, but will fulfill a number of other duties in addition to his coaching responsibilities. He will also continue his daily radio commentary, from 9 to 11 a.m., on KCSP 610 AM.
Leaven photo by Joe Bollig
MARK IT DOWN — Former Kansas City Chiefts football player Tim Grunhard — who gained a reputation for hard work during his high school, university and professional football careers — promised a state championship football team during a press conference that announced him as the new Miege head football coach.