When the Coyotes women’s basketball team starts practice in June and the season runs through April, it can be hard to keep up the energy, but junior Claudia Kunzer finds a way.
“I’m just a happy go lucky person,” Kunzer said. “No matter what I’m always going to have a smile on my face. I think to myself, ‘well, everything happens for a reason.’ Everything I’ve gone through happens for a reason.”
Kunzer is from Bratlett, Illinois and was originally recruited by head coach Dawn Plitzuweit when she was at Northern Kentucky. When Plitzuweit became the head coach of the Coyotes, Kunzer said she reached out to her to see how things were going. Plitzuweit attended one of Kunzer’s games and encouraged her to make a trip to USD.
Kunzer said once she arrived at USD, she knew she had found a home away from home.
“I always tell the younger kids, you step onto campus and you know,” Kunzer said. “I stepped on USD and I knew this is where I wanted to be. I read about the community, I hung out with the team and I was like, this is where I want to be.”
Kunzer’s role with the team has been an energy producer. She plays eight minutes a game, but is the player at the end of the line during the introduction, doing handshakes with the starter. Kunzer is in the center of the team circle hyping the team up and Pltizuweit said she is one of the loudest players on the bench encouraging her teammates.
“(Kunzer) is a constant energy giver,” Plitzuweit said. “There’s no better term to define her than that. She’s someone who brings it every day and those are the people you want to be around.”
Kunzer’s energy is a constant, no matter the situation, Plitzuweit said.
“She does it in practice,” Plitzuweit said. “She does it outside of practice. She brings energy on the bus, she brings energy at team dinners, she brings energy at meetings. She’s just the person who provides it over and over again and that is important for us because you are either giving energy or taking the energy away and that becomes contagious.”
Kunzer said the team chose her for this role and she has it. She said she was a homebody in high school and still is to an extent but her roommates have been a big part of the shift into the outgoing person she is.
Her roommates, Chloe Lamb, Monica Arens and Liv Korngable are some of Kunzer’s best friends, Kunzer said.
“Liv Korngable says her life would not be as interesting without me,” Kunzer said. “My favorite thing she said to me today was, ‘if you weren’t as energetic as you were freshman year, us and our roommates probably still wouldn’t hang out with each other.'”
Kunzer said she gets her energy from her mom and growing up with three brothers. Her mom was the loudest person cheering at her high school games. Kunzer and her brothers played basketball and brought energy into her life.
Plitzuweit said what Kunzer brings to the team is unique and it’s not often that a player doing all of the extra behind the scenes work. Kunzer’s impact can be seen with the fan base, little girls admiring Kunzer’s energy and the parents of those kids, Plitzuweit said.
“It’s a lot easier to be the person that is celebrated because you’re having the most success,” Plitzuweit said. “It’s harder to be the person behind the scenes that is making a positive impact and (Kunzer) is kind of unique in that respect. Most people don’t talk about that kid on her team, most of those kids don’t receive recognition, but because (Kunzer) is so special, she’s someone who has received some attention for doing that.”