Kingsmill coaching the next generation of Brunos
Elmwood Park's Austin Tillema makes a final sprint for the finish on Saturday, September 22, 2012 in Northlake, IL. | Jon Durr~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 2, 2012 6:35AM
BENSENVILLE — Some coaches love their sport so much they remain at the same school for many years and end up seeing sons and daughters of athletes they used to coach.
That’s the case with Elmwood Park cross country coach John Kingsmill this year, as one of his newest runners, Dante Bruno, is the son of a former Tigers standout.
“His dad, Al, was one of the first athletes I coached at Elmwood Park,” Kingsmill said. “It’s kind of like symmetry that his son enrolls at Elmwood Park while I’m still coaching here.”
Kingsmill played a big role in Al Bruno’s life and the former Tiger never forgot it. Kingsmill is Dante Bruno’s godfather, as well as his cross country coach.
“He was a father figure to my dad,” Dante Bruno said. “He went to him when he needed to talk to somebody and was having problems and the friendship continued. It’s pretty cool to be able to run for the same coach.”
The younger Bruno didn’t have any problems about following in the footsteps of his father, a football and track star.
“Hand-eye coordination wasn’t really my best skill,” Dante Bruno said. “I liked running, did a 5K and liked it, so when fall came around I thought I’d try cross country and ended up loving it.”
According to Kingsmill, father and son are two totally different runners. Al Bruno ran more like a football and track guy, while Dante is more of a pure runner.
Dante Bruno ran on the sophomore team and attended invites and postseason meets, such as Saturday’s Fenton sectional, which he believes will help him as he progresses in his career.
“It’s intimidating, it’s scary,” he said. “It’s glorifying though. You feel like a legend, more special than intimidated. These events do that to you.”
Dad occasionally dispenses words to his son.
“He tries to give me advice all the time, but seems to be losing his touch over the years,” Dante Bruno said, tongue in cheek. “He’s very supportive and motivational and is always there if I need help with anything.”
Elmwood Park had a young team this year and none of its top-seven runners were seniors. Kingsmill, who plans on retiring from teaching after the school year, hopes to stay on as cross country coach.
“This is a young squad, one that can be pretty good,” Kingsmill said. “I’d like to be here to see it all as it develops.’’
Ricky Wojcik advanced to the state finals for the Elmwood Park, which missed qualifying for a team spot by one place. The junior finished 27th.
The girls team finished seventh and also advanced one runner, Bridget Ziegler. Ziegler finished 15th at the Class 2A sectional at Fenton.