In the Locker Room: Don Hunsinger
Don Hunsinger is a legend at Oberlin College. After over two decades of exemplary service, Oberlin’s director of tennis will retire at the end of the year. Hunsinger served as the men’s tennis head coach for 18 seasons, a position he held since 1996, before being named director of tennis in 2006. Hunsinger served as the director of athletics for five years, has led the football and baseball programs and has assisted with both men’s and women’s basketball at Oberlin. To add to his impressive record, he has been a four-time recipient of the NCAC Coach of the Year Award, but more important are the lives he has touched. Below are a handful of snapshots from the people he has inspired as a coach, friend, colleague and human being.
Matt Kaplan: Who is Coach Hunsinger?
Vera Peterson (Equipment Room Manager): Coach Hunsinger is a coach that cares about his players and Oberlin College. I first knew Don as a football coach and to me he will always be that. A football coach. He is always helpful and caring. He isn’t afraid to speak his mind and you always know where you stand with him. The best thing is he knows where all the best ice cream places are. The one thing that makes him a legend here is he is a great educator and a great coach. He knows how to get his points across.
MK: Tell us about your first impression of Coach Hunsinger.
Carol Wilhelm (Administrative Assistant): That was a long, long time ago. We were still in Warner Gym and oh, so young. I thought he was a pretty hot commodity on the coaching scene.
MK: Describe Coach Hunsinger away from the court or the field. What is he like?
CW: Coach Hunsinger is a loyal friend to me and to many others as well as to this college. He’s kind and generous. He’s the sort of person who helps anyone — including strangers) — in distress, even if it means going miles out of his way. He’s not afraid to tell you what he believes. He’s not a “PC” kind of guy, and I respect that. He’s the kind of person that you can have a disagreement with and it doesn’t have to devolve into angry words or recriminations.
Jaime Frankel, OC ’04 (Former Men’s Tennis Player): A loving father of two and husband of over 40 years. Buckeye lover as well. Passionate about golf and food — sorry, coach.
Kate Ogren, junior (Women’s Tennis Team): He’s inconspicuously all-knowing, funny, compassionate towards others, a food connoisseur, loves basketball, feisty — best not to try to pick a fight; great with directions, knows every DQ probably in Ohio, loves to listen to opera music, loves to play golf, likes to shop and is pretty tolerant — puts up with dance parties in the girls’ van.
MK: Best advice Coach Hunsinger has given you?
Deb Ranieri (Women’s Lacrosse & Field Hockey Coach): Tell the recruits that it’s always sunny and beautiful here at Oberlin. Isn’t it that way at all institutions? We have perfect weather year round. Then you can laugh a bit especially if they just visited in the recent April snow blizzard. Then tell them that most people choose Oberlin for its outstanding educational opportunities, not the weather.
MK: Favorite memory with Coach Hunsinger?
Eric Lahetta (Head Baseball Coach): Coach Hunsinger comes out once a year and coaches first base for the baseball team. Against Lake Erie a few years ago, we scored 18 runs in the first inning and he refused to go back out there for the second inning, saying he did his job, it’s someone else’s turn.
MK: Tell me about Coach Hunsinger.
Kimiko Glynn, junior (Women’s Tennis): He’s like extended family for me. He comes to my performances in the Conservatory, coaches me on the court and talks to me about anything that’s going on in my life. I will truly miss him next year because he has become a big part of my tennis career. I will continue to play tennis with him in mind and heart.
MK: How would you describe Coach Hunsinger’s personality?
Jackie Golden, junior (Women’ Tennis Team): Very lovable. He is by far my most favorite coach I’ve ever had. He’s intense during matches, but that’s good because it forces me to focus. Off the court, he’s supportive and willing to work with us. He very seldom gets visibly angry and he’s patient with all of our music choices in the van! It takes a special someone to put up with what we listen to!
KO: He’s got a great sense of humor and he is very witty. He can appear to be both like a teddy bear and like a pit bull, is pretty laid back until we’re playing on the courts, is very caring and says most of what comes to mind.
Matt Kaplan: What does Coach Hunsinger value most in his players?
Colin Burling, junior (Men’s Tennis Team): Dedication and strength of character.
Ezra Goldman, junior (Men’s Tennis Team): Honor, sportsmanship, winning.
MK: Coach Hunsinger is a fixture in the athletic department. How did he attain such legendary status?
JG: He’s old and been around for a while — he knows what he’s doing! Seriously though, he’s very personable and really cares about his players. He wants us to be happy and he listens to what we want.