By Cam McCusker ’10. This article originally appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of the Cardigan Chronicle.
A stalwart on The Point for close to two decades, Allan Kreuzburg P’14,’17 has represented somewhat of an enigma to those who have been privileged enough to interact with him. The confusion that comes with the essence of Coach K, is that, not unlike Benjamin Button, he seems to be getting younger as time moves forward.
While he might be the first to, in good humor, point out that he certainly doesn’t feel as though he’s gotten much younger, those around him can’t help but marvel at his awe-inspiring energy—something that hasn’t wavered or subsided for a moment since his arrival at Cardigan in September of 1996. Despite being surrounded by 200+ active adolescent boys, Kreuzburg amazingly appears to be the individual on the Cardigan campus with the most energy. Fortunately for Cardigan’s students, and the community as a whole, none of this energy goes to waste.
Renaissance man. Multi-faceted clutch player. Jack of all trades. Wearer of many hats.
While these clichés might indeed begin to describe Kreuzburg’s role on campus, none of them comes close to adequately encompassing all that he brings to the table. And much to the delight of those around him, Coach K has still proven to be incapable of spreading himself too thin.
In his tenure at Cardigan, Kreuzburg has coached the Cougar lacrosse, football, and wrestling teams at every level. He has also organized student jobs and headed up the kitchen crew. His role in the kitchen began just a few years after he arrived on The Point, as a favor to Cardigan’s beloved Dudley Clark H’05. After Mr. Clark retired, Kreuzburg maintained the role, and has for quite some time. The efficiency of these student kitchen crews serves as a microcosm of the teams and groups that Coach K has led on campus; they are truly well-oiled machines.
Notable among his many roles during his decades at Cardigan is Kreuzburg’s tenure as a science, math, and learning language teacher. Long-time Cardigan faculty member Alex Gray (H’12, P’14,’16) remarks, “Allan’s science classes historically were some of the most exacting and demanding courses for Cardigan gents, and alumni have consistently reported that they have been better prepared for secondary school science than any other subject.”
The rigor of a Coach K lesson was, and continues to be, specifically designed to provide equal parts academic challenge, educational growth, and organizational readiness. The impact of which Alex Gray says transcends the confines of a classroom and spreads into other areas of student life. Quite simply, being enrolled in one of Kreuzburg’s classes provided not just a demanding and expansive course-specific curriculum, but also a clinic on how to succeed at the next level. Organization, hard work, and consistent improvement are the principles upon which Kreuzburg’s classes are founded.
As a mentor, motivator, and model citizen for nearly 20 years, Kreuzberg has perfected the art of getting the most out of his students and players while also demanding much of himself.
To add to the seemingly endless roles which Kreuzburg plays at Cardigan, one of his lesser known duties includes the sorting of provisional laundry from the school’s laundry service. At the end of each Cardigan Summer Session, one by one the Cardigan students bring their laundry to be re-organized and returned. Each laundry bag consists of nearly 20 items, meaning there are over 3,200 items of laundry to be organized for return. Kreuzburg takes on this task single-handedly.
More impressively, he completes the job in mere hours. While the volume of laundry that changes hands might seem to require the help of five faculty members, it would only get done more slowly. Personally, I have been lucky enough to witness this process occur multiple times, each time with my mouth more agape than before. The mastery, work ethic, and pleasant demeanor that Kreuzburg applies to such a seemingly tedious and menial task leaves me in awe.
While the spectacle of this efficient and systematic work is inspiring enough, there is an important message that lies within the way Kreuzburg completes this task: there are no little things. The same level of attention to detail and maximum effort is applied to each and every project that Kreuzburg takes on. Without exception.
As a mentor, motivator, and model citizen for nearly 20 years, Kreuzberg has perfected the art of getting the most out of his students and players while also demanding much of himself. As he completes difficult daily duties that could (in less constructive environments) be seen as obstacles, he instead proves to all those around him that these speed bumps are in fact opportunities, and that true growth comes when we demand much of ourselves.
Though Kreuzburg is much more than just a coach—you’d be hard-pressed to find a student who can’t recall in vivid detail his methods and energy in the classroom—it seems appropriate to examine his coaching methods in more detail.
Kreuzburg is a self-described “enthusiastically expectant” coach. He strongly believes that his players are capable of doing good work, and as such, accountability is paramount. To Kreuzburg, emphatic praise for a job well done is just as important as understanding and acknowledging when efforts fall short. In either scenario, Coach K is there to vocally (at times loudly) enforce points of emphasis that are paramount to a player’s growth.
Kreuzburg’s emphasis on good habits and effort is not limited to vocal reinforcement; he’s almost constantly in motion during his practices, taking part in as many drills as possible. Kreuzburg says, “I want to work as hard as the kids are in conditioning, if not a little bit harder…to show them it matters. I want to let them know they can do what is needed and focus coaching comments on things to do, not things that shouldn’t be done.”
While Coach K is no stranger to a competitive spirit and a desire to win, he places the desire to improve and grow as a teammate and player above what is shown on the scoreboard. Kreuzburg enters into each season with the following goals: (1) Get better today; (2) Compete; (3) Be your best when it matters most.
These goals fall perfectly in line with what Kreuzburg views as the benefits of athletics. Daily commitment to exercise, he says, nurtures both movement and camaraderie, while regular challenges as an athlete both test and develop character. “Movement, camaraderie, and test of character,” Kreuzburg states, that’s the meaning of athletics in the Cardigan community.
Continued Success, Continued Growth
Since Kreuzburg began teaching and coaching, two things have been with him throughout: a tweed blazer, and an orange tree he grew from a seed when he first began teaching. Kreuzburg says his blazer is versatile and that he can wear with anything; his orange tree is doing well but has yet to flower.
Both artifacts seem appropriate metaphors to capture how he lives his life as a teacher, coach, and mentor. The blazer serves as a symbol of versatility, something that Kreuzburg has embodied throughout his immersion in myriad roles at Cardigan. He is comfortable in roles all over campus, helping out wherever his is needed and always elevating the standards and level of play. The orange tree, meanwhile, represents something that, while doing well for quite some time, has its best days ahead of it. With his motivation and continued commitment to forward progress, for Kreuzburg, there is no end goal, only steady progress toward leaving the world--and Cardigan--a better place.
By Cam McCusker ’10. This article originally appeared in the Winter 2020 edition of the Cardigan Chronicle.