“Do you intend to quit?”
Culver Academies Track and Field Coach Mike Chastain asked Henry “Frankie” Brun ’05 and a friend that question when they asked if they could join the CMA track team late.
Brun said they had originally wanted to play on the junior varsity baseball team, but could see that actually playing wasn’t in the cards. “I wasn’t that great,” he admitted, and the two wanted to pick up another sport during the spring of their third-class year.
After talking with Chastain about joining the team after practices had started, Brun said the coach asked if they were going to last the season. They assured him they would, and he let them join the team.
For Brun, that was the bumpy start of a career that has led to a sectional championship in the long jump at Culver Military, NCAA Div. III All-America status in the triple jump at Alma College, and recently accepting the head cross country and track coaching position at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan.
(Culver coach Mike) Chastain “always helps you down the right path. He asks the right questions.”
Much of his success he credits to Chastain and his college coach Gordon Aldrich. “Those are two people I will talk to until the end of time,” Brun said. Chastain “always helps you down the right path,” Brun said – even today. Brun consulted with Chastain throughout his job search; “He asks the right questions.”
Now serving as the division commander for the Drum & Bugle Corps in Woodcraft Camp, Brun will drive back to his mother’s home, pack his belongings, and head for Benedictine as soon as Culver Summer Schools & Camps is over. A member of the Band while a student at Culver, Brun has served as the head of the D&B since 2013. He also worked in Woodcraft as a junior counselor in 2005 before he left for a stint in the United States Air Force. He then returned in 2009, working in Woodcraft during his college years and three years while serving as an assistant track coach at D3 colleges in Michigan and Wisconsin.
During his free time, Brun is calling returning members of Benedictine’s team just to get to know them better. There’s no need to talk training or technique yet, he said. Those days will come later. Right now he just wants to plant the seeds for the culture he would like to see the teams adopt.
And whether he is working with a 9-year-old during a drumming lesson or a 19-year-old on his running technique, Brun said the cardinal virtues and basic values he learned at Culver still apply. Even as a new recruit in the Air Force, he found that Culver’s leadership training still helpful.
“I was a 17-year-old recruit and they put me in a leadership position,” Brun said, adding that the average age of his unit was 22. But because of his training at Culver, he was given an opportunity to lead and show his superiors what he was capable of doing. And the basic tenets of leadership apply whether you are in the Air Force, coaching a collegiate team, or working with 9-year-olds in summer camp, he added.
Brun enjoys working camp because he gets to see the growth of the Woodcraft Campers over the six-week period. “It’s cool to see the leadership take effect,” he said. “It is a lifetime experience.”
And he finds hard it to believe that three of the campers who were here when he started as a junior counselor are now working as counselors themselves. “That’s just shocking to me. To see how big an impact you can have on someone’s life.”
And, he believes, it is unique to Culver. Whether it summer camp or prep school, the campers and students always find a reason to come back. “I have visited this campus at least once a year since 2002,” he added. And that connection to Culver carries over to other areas of life as well.
When he began looking at college head coaching positions around the country, he turned to the Culver alumni network for background information. Using the Culver database, he was able to find alumni who either went to the respective colleges he was thinking about applying to or lived in the communities where the colleges were located. He never was turned down and the conversations would last from 30 to 90 minutes. One alumnus even called him back to see how his job search was going, Brun said. “It doesn’t matter if you graduated 40 years apart, there is still that connection.”
But, for now, Brun is content watching and assisting that 9-year-old boy taking drumming lessons because he wants to earn the patch. That’s because Frankie Brun knows the day is coming when the switch will be flipped and that boy will go, “Hey!”
And the leadership experience will begin.