By Tom Nader | Sports Editor
Jim Lunardi wants to win football games.
He has done plenty of it during his 10 years as head coach of the Ravenna Ravens football team.
In the process, he has also helped solidify the high school’s program — both athletically and academically — while injecting accountability into the standards he holds for his student-athletes.
Recognizing what his techniques could achieve at the high school level, Lunardi was ready to implement them throughout Ravenna’s youth teams and was recently named the new youth football director of the Ravenna Rams.
“It has always been a long-term goal of mine to have complete control of the football program from grades ‘K’ through 12,” Lunardi said. “No different than how a school superintendent oversees an entire district.”
Do not confuse Lunardi’s ambition for an agenda of power.
His goal is simple: Create an environment where all student-athletes can succeed in the future with or without football.
Lunardi’s plan to reach that goal is to instill a mindset that academics will always come first and that doing the right thing is the top priority. In a sense, he views football as a reward for those who make good choices and embrace accountability.
While wins oftentimes get thrust to the forefront, Lunardi’s intentions are to maximize opportunities for student-athletes. He wants to produce the highest number of good people he can, knowing that can trump any win, championship or playoff berth he enjoys on the gridiron.
“I just believe that if things are done consistently, then we can have a program that produces good kids that have bright futures,” Lunardi said. “I felt that the only way to truly accomplish that goal was for me to take things over.”
According to Lunardi, the monitoring system will result in missed games through a pattern of demerits if grades are not up to standard.
Lunardi, who has an appreciation for the history of Rams football, replaces Tom Brode as the youth football director.
“This is a city with a lot of football history, and I thank Tom (Brode) for his service, just as I thank and appreciate all those that have come before him, like Lee and Lori Summers and everyone else.”
Joining Lunardi will be Chris Burch, who will be the assistant director and allow Lunardi to maintain focus on his high school program.
Additionally, Kristin Stonestreet will become the new cheerleading director, with advisors Debbie Paolluci, Catherine Corrigall and Amanda Laughlin. The Rams currently have a vacant coaching position at the flag level, but other coaches include Robert Mitchell (C Division), Ken Howard (C Division), John Riley (B Division), Keith Fife (A Division) and Sonny Jones (JV).
Lunardi has had involvement at the youth level since becoming the Ravens’ head coach, but now will have a stronger voice in the decision-making process.
Coming with it, though, will be another responsibility for a busy coach that does not commit to something unless he can give everything he has.
“It is going to be a lot of time and a lot of effort, but that is OK because I know that is what it is going to take to get to the ultimate goal of what my dream is,” Lunardi said.
It is a dream that includes a group of student-athletes that, when faced with a difficult decision, makes the right choice far more often than not. Then after realizing the reward that comes with it, they will be motivated to make the right choice again and again.
Original Article can be found at: http://recordpub.com/news/sports_article/5192610