Labor of love pays in victories Man of many hats: For a time, Rick Kuhn was handling athletic director plus boys and girls basketball coaching duties for Rock Church.

January 19, 1996|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Rick Kuhn never learned to juggle until he took over as athletic director at Rock Church Academy.

Now, he can keep three hats spinning in the air all at once -- athletic director, boys basketball coach and girls basketball coach.

Assuming such a load seems a daunting task, but Kuhn never balked, even though he had just completed chemotherapy treatments for hepatitis C a few months before. Now in remission from the serious liver disease, Kuhn sees his hands-on approach to Victors basketball as the first step toward eventually competing with the Metro area's better teams.

"I thought it was my responsibility," said Kuhn, who has coached almost every boys and girls team during his seven years at the Loch Raven-area school. "I like to see the kids get better, and I like to see the kids win. It's a real vision they have to win."

Not that the Victors aren't winning now. Playing in the Maryland Christian Athletic League, the boys team is 10-2; and the girls, who tied for the regular-season title a year ago, are 5-1. But Kuhn would like to compete at a higher level.

So he took over the girls team after it lost its second coach in less than a year. Kuhn knew he could provide the necessary stability while searching for someone to commit long term to the program.

That meant some long days -- including four hours for back-to-back practices -- for Kuhn, who still felt the exhausting effects of hepatitis as well as the chemotherapy. Despite tiring out quickly, Kuhn felt pretty good about his recovery, especially considering his early prognosis.

"Doctors gave me a 15 percent chance [to live]," said Kuhn, who began showing the symptoms of hepatitis C nearly three years ago. During a seven-month period that ended in July he underwent chemotherapy, responding so well that he didn't have to complete the treatments. Earlier this week, he received test results indicating that the disease is in remission.

"My liver enzymes were normal for the first time in four years," said Kuhn, 41. "I believe the Lord cured me. I really do. The doctor said there's a one-in-two chance that it could come back, but I'm believing it's healed."

As his energy returns, Kuhn is putting almost all of it into the Rock athletic program, from coaching to fund raising to improving the youth programs.

Kuhn, a graduate of Towson High, never expected to juggle all of the winter coaching responsibilities for long. Since Christmas he has all but relinquished the boys team to Anthony Hill, his assistant since the season started. Even Hill, who came to Rock from Oklahoma last year, marvels at the load Kuhn has carried.

"It's incredible," said Hill. "In working here, they ask you to do a lot, so you've got to be focused and be able to balance a lot of different responsibilities. He wanted to make sure he could stand back and look at the overall picture rather than just focusing on basketball, and I think that's going to help our athletic program here."

The hard work and long hours are definitely a labor of love for Kuhn, the father of three who is about to return from medical disability to his job as an insurance broker. He doesn't make a lot of money as athletic director and, like Rock's other coaches, receives no salary for those positions.

He knows he has a lot of work to do to boost the program to compete with the local elite, but he has no doubt it can be done.

"Now, we're playing schools 10 and 20 times our size and winning," said Kuhn, who draws 19 basketball players from an upper-school enrollment of 32. "A few years ago, we did move up to the MSA and we got pounded pretty good. When we move up the next time, the pounding ain't gonna happen -- we hope."

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