Hunt hired as Benedictine head coach

ATCHISON, Kan. — Paul Hunt has accepted the softball head coaching position with Benedictine College.

Hunt, a 2005 graduate of St. Edmond, leaves Iowa Central after two seasons as both assistant softball coach and assistant athletic director.

The decision to take over the softball program at the Catholic Liberal Arts Education four-year school was a difficult one for Hunt to make — as it involves leaving his home and moving his family — but was one he felt could not be passed over.

“It really is bittersweet because we have become part of this Fort Dodge community as a family,” Hunt said. “Between St. Edmond, Fort Dodge Senior High and Iowa Central, you really can’t ask for a whole lot more.

“But the opportunity to take over the program at Benedictine was one I could not turn down. Once I got on the campus and saw everything it had to offer, I knew it was the right fit.”

Hunt will make the move in the coming weeks, while his family is expected to join him soon. That includes his wife, former St. Edmond head softball coach and SEHS grad Kasey (Kutz) Hunt, along with their three children.

“For our family, it is a really good fit staying with a Catholic program,” Hunt said. “Everything about Benedictine is great. The softball field is two years old, as is the baseball field. Both have turf infields; when you walk into it, it has that big-time feel to it all.”

Hunt was the head coach at St. Edmond for four seasons, guiding the Gaels to a pair of trips to state. That included a third place finish in 2015 before taking his position at Iowa Central.

Under Hunt, St. Edmond captured a pair of North Central Conference titles and he was twice named the district coach of the year. At Iowa Central, the Tritons won 40 games this past season and 34 two years ago.

“I’ve been very fortunate with the experiences that I’ve had at both St. Edmond and Iowa Central,” Hunt said. “I am very grateful for the opportunity Dr. (Dan) Kinney gave me to coach at the college level. And I could not ask for a better person to work under than Rick Sandquist. He has been a great mentor to me and that is what really makes it hard to part ways with Fort Dodge.

“Along with Dr. Kinney and coach Sandquist, the relationship with The Messenger and Jim Winter out at Rogers Park are things that we take for granted because not every school or program has that.”

Hunt will be taking over for Dana Goss, who resigned from coaching the Ravens after four seasons. Goss went 91-86, including a 21-25 record this past year.

Benedictine competes in the Heart of America Athletic Conference of NAIA, where they placed 10th and advanced to the league tournament.

“While Kansas isn’t that much further south than Iowa, it does give you better weather for the spring,” Hunt said. “We’ll be competing in the same conference as Grand View, so the benchmark is there.

“I’m really excited about getting out, putting together a recruiting class and competing. I’m going to bring the same style of play I had at St. Edmond and Iowa Central, shaping the program into how I want it.”

The Ravens first started playing softball in 1996 and have had seven winning seasons since — all of which have come since 2007.

“When I was looking at job opportunities as they became present, I didn’t want to go to a place that has been nothing but successful for a long time,” Hunt said. “I was drawn to a program that I felt could take the next step with my guidance.

“I truly believe I bring in a culture of competitiveness, and with the right players, can compete at the top of the conference every year.”