The newest member of the NYU men’s soccer and men’s and women’s golf coaching staff is also one of NYU’s most recent graduates. 2019 grad Jack Kurtenbach was the men’s soccer manager and a pitcher for the baseball team during his collegiate career and now juggles minor coaching responsibilities for three teams.
Kurtenbach’s NYU athletics journey started before his arrival in New York City when he decided to quit playing golf to focus on baseball full-time. The decision paid off, and he was recruited to join NYU where he played for two years before jetting off to London in the fall of his junior year. It’s this semester away that Kurtenbach said piqued his interest in soccer.
“At that point, the soccer bug had already kind of taken hold,” Kurtenbach said. “I decided to work in soccer. Then NYCFC [New York City Football Club] offered me an internship that I thought I had no business being offered, so I took the opportunity and went that route.”
This internship was mainly spent on the business side of the sport, but Kurtenbach says it helped him stay interested nonetheless, and from there, he knew that he wanted to work for a sports team one day.
Through his time in London and with NYCFC, Kurtenbach developed more than just a love of soccer. He was also able to develop film analysis skills and gain experience with video technology, which he credits as the main driving force behind his application to the soccer team.
“I’m so into breaking down how teams play and there was really nothing that comes from just being on Twitter and looking through websites so I thought if this is something that I do — and an actual talent or skill — let’s see if I can do it for NYU,” Kurtenbach said. “And [men’s soccer head coach Kim Wyant] was looking for someone to come in and do it at the same time so it was a very fortuitous match.”
Before his senior year began, Kurtenbach decided to shoot his shot and apply for the assistant coach position despite being a year out from graduation. Following an interview with Wyant, Kurtenbach was hired as a manager for the team.
“I’m always looking for good, qualified kids that can help because it’s a big operation and if somebody wants to get involved and they have a genuine interest in becoming involved, then we welcome the help,” Wyant said. “I was able to come up with some responsibilities to fit into his schedule, being a student still at NYU but also helping us out.”
From there, Kurtenbach became the team’s main source for game film analysis and was hired as an assistant coach upon graduation. Kurtenbach’s familiarity with NYU athletics helped him land his position as an assistant coach on the men’s and women’s golf teams as well.
Now that Kurtenbach is an official coach on three sports at once, his schedule is tight, but he has managed to develop a system that works, traveling mostly with the golf team, and alternating the sport he focuses on more every other day. He spends most of his energy on the golf teams, which he initially found surprising.
“I was actually kind of thinking that for golf, that [role] would be a little wonky, but to be honest, it’s probably more important,” Kurtenbach said. “I think every coach that I’ve talked to, every player that I’ve talked to, they’re very into getting everything they possibly can so that they can improve their game.”
Gathering this information on players’ form and strategy is the main component of Kurtenbach’s role on both teams, and he describes his coaching style as being more hands-off and focused on getting the players what they need to improve on their own. The more lax approach is especially helpful for his work with the golf teams, as this is his first year and he is still fleshing out his role.
“Personally, I’m trying to make sure that I have a clear role figured out for these guys. Obviously with the golf team, it’s new, and so I’m hoping that by the end of the year we have a set schedule for the team and how we’re going to go about things,” Kurtenbach said. “I want more consistency with how I go about things with these guys.”
He believes that improving this consistency will help his already-talented teams to succeed at an even greater level. Both the golf and soccer teams are looking to build upon past success in their respective NCAA DIII tournaments. Last season, the women’s golf team won the NCAA Division III National Championship for the first time in the program’s history.
“I hate to call on legitimate success on the playing field, but honestly, both teams are so primed for it,” Kurtenbach said. “As of right now, they all have the ability to win some serious silverware, and that’s the kind of thing that I think they’ll be able to take and remember fondly for the rest of their lives. I think that that’s going to be the best thing for these people.”
A version of this article appears in the Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019 print edition. Email Benjamin Davis at [email protected]