By Tom Zulewski
Iron County Today
If the measure of a teacher and the impact he had on the lives of the students could be quantified, the measurement knows no boundaries for those who learned under Dr. Steve Lunt.
Lunt, a longtime physical education teacher at Southern Utah University among many other roles at the school, passed away Jan. 31 at his Cedar City home. He was 81.
In his more than 50 years at SUU, Lunt took on nearly every role imaginable in the Athletic Department, including teacher, PE department chairman, assistant coach for football and men’s basketball, head track and field coach, head athletic trainer, and even athletic director, among many others.
Lunt was also a liaison for the Utah High School Activities Association, but what may have been the greatest legacy he left behind came from the sheer numbers of coaches who graduated from his tutelage.
The Coaching Factory was a term coined by former Deseret News sports writer Dan Pattison, and the legacy has taken off over the last three decades. Many who were impacted by Lunt are doing the same for Canyon View and Cedar High.
CV head baseball coach Jason Jacobsen said he was living in Lehi and searching for a place to finish school in 2000. When he made the call to SUU, Lunt answered the phone.
“When you first start talking to him, you could tell you were talking to someone who loved Southern Utah,” Jacobsen said. “He made you feel wanted, and I’ll never forget the day I made that call, meeting him in his office for the first time and telling me all I had to do to become a teacher and a coach.”
The end result left Jacobsen with no doubt he made the right decision.
“It was an amazing opportunity to come into his life because he definitely affected ours in huge ways,” Jacobsen said of Lunt’s impact. “He always showed that he cared. I don’t know if he remembered everybody’s name who came through the program, but he sure remembered a lot. If he didn’t remember your name, he remembered your face. It teaches us to pay attention to people who come into our lives.”
Canyon View has hosted the Region 20 boys basketball tournament for the last several years, and Lunt always made sure to pay a visit. Jacobsen said he plans on picking up one important piece of furniture to honor his mentor.
“We were talking about hosting the other day, and I reminded myself that I needed to get his chair,” Jacobsen said. “Every time he came, he wanted his chair over on the east side of the gym. When I heard of his passing, that’s the first thing I thought of.”
Jacobsen confirmed the chair will be in the gym and sit empty for the tournament in tribute to Lunt.
CV boys basketball assistant coach Kim Blackner said Lunt’s impact has reverberated to this day – from the basics of good coaching to showing concern for things that happen outside of sports.
“He’s a great mentor, a great teacher, but also a great friend,” Blackner said. “I had a chance to visit with him a week ago, and he was still concerned about things we’ve talked about for years.”
When asked about the most valuable life lesson he learned from Lunt, Blackner took out a piece of paper and wrote out an acronym from one of the first lessons he taught at SUU.
“It was on a blackboard back then,” Blackner recalled. “Don’t bring me problems, bring me answers and solutions. What I learned from that in administrative positions, coaching, being in charge of programs, is how detailed he analyzed things. I was able to use that throughout my personal and professional career. Be accountable and turn over every stone.”
Cedar girls basketball coach Corry Nielson was hired by the late Dr. Lunt to work for the physical education department at SUU and saw how organized he was first-hand. His memories of Lunt go back even further.
“I remember when he was the basketball coach at SUU and I was in eighth grade,” Nielson said. “I used to always go over and watch him coach. It was fun, and the most important thing is how organized he was. He made sure everything was done and planned to the second.”
Cause of death was unknown. Funeral arrangements are pending.