Alumni Honor Coach George Huisman After 40 Years in Christian Education

Wendi Kitsteiner
Good teachers and coaches can have a profound impact beyond the years they find themselves in the classroom — they leave a legacy.

We’re celebrating the legacy of CCA coach and teacher, George Huisman, who after 44 years of service in Christian education retired in December, 2018. George began teaching at Fort Lauderdale Christian School in 1974. During his time at FLCS he taught Physical Education, English, and Bible. For many of those years he was the Athletic Director and Dean of Students. In addition, he also served as the interim Head of School when the campus merged with CCA.

During his many years at FLCS and then CCA, Mr. Huisman coached a wide variety of sports. The majority of his time, however, was spent leading girls basketball, volleyball, and softball teams. He won many district championships in those sports, but his most legendary mark was left in basketball with two regional championships and then two trips to the Final Four in 1994 and 1995, including a state runner-up in 1994.
"...He believed in my potential. He told me I could be one of the best athletes that had ever come through FLCS. And guess what, Coach? I believed you that day and it set my life on a different course."
We reached out to many of the people he taught, coached, and worked with over the years. We asked them to share a memory that they had of Coach Huisman. Can you believe not a single one of those people mentioned a specific win or a specific number of points or even the details of a specific game? What they remember are the lessons he shared and the person he was. Here are some of the things they shared:
 
  • Matt Cleveland graduated from FLCS in 1997. “I had a small handful of good mentors that led me as a kid, and Coach Huisman was one of them,” Matt recalls. His most vivid memory of Coach Huisman was actually after a moment of indiscretion in 1993. He recalls how angry Coach was after a bad decision Matt had made on the team bus. “I couldn’t stay out of trouble,” Matt recalls. “Coach and I stayed on that hot bus and he wore me out and told me the reason he was frustrated with me so often is because he believed in my potential. He told me I could be one of the best athletes that had ever come through FLCS. And guess what, Coach? I believed you that day and it set my life on a different course. For that I am forever grateful.” Matt did indeed to go on to become one of the finest athletes FLCS ever had. He played baseball at Nova Southeastern and then professionally for the Kansas City Royals. He is now a coach himself.

  • Co-worker Mary Travers taught with George from 1991-2010. Her words painted him in the light nearly everyone remembers: “Whenever I hear George’s name, I get a visual of him standing courtside with his right hand on his left elbow and his left hand on his chin, his brow furrowed and a very thoughtful look.”

  • Nearly everyone has some memory of Coach telling them to get off the gym floor or to stop walking on the grass. But Matt Kitsteiner (class of ’03) has a grass story which might just be the most legendary of them all. “I was walking on the grass by the gym. And when I saw coach, I immediately jumped over the rope with amazing failure and face-planted right on the sidewalk. Coach said to me in all seriousness, ‘That’s what you get. Now do ten push-ups and stay off the grass.’”

  • Former co-worker Mike Means recalls that when he first arrived at FLCS, it didn’t take long to figure out that the tall guy in the gym seemed to have his hand in everything. “The legacy he has created, through the impact he’s had on hundreds … thousands … has made an eternal mark. Well done, George!”

  • Tami Hill (class of ’98) echoed these statements from an athlete’s perspective. “I always looked up to Coach Huisman (literally, with his eight-foot-tall self.) He will always be larger than life, with a heart to match. Thanks for taking a chance on a 5’4” volleyball player.”

  • A long-term co-worker was Byron Cox who moved with Coach from FLCS to CCA after the merger. "George, 26 years together (more or less) at FLCS! Thanks for your friendship, leadership, and for loving my children. You're a great man and have had a profound impact on the world. Many blessings to you."

Anyone who recalls memories of Coach Huisman can’t help but mention a story about his dry sense of humor, his brutal honesty, and his no-compromise requirement for good behavior. And these are only a smattering of the people who responded when asked how Coach George Huisman had impacted their life — the grateful sentiments go on and on! After more than 40 years of serving in Christian education, Coach Huisman may be retiring with fewer comforts than others, but to him, the sacrifice has always been worth it. He was paid less, but the seeds he sowed into the lives of those he came in contact with will never be forgotten.



 
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  • Denise Wietsma Gianino
    Coach Huisman has truly been a blessing in my life for the past 30 years. First playing for him, next coaching under him when he was AD, and then coaching against him. He always treated others with the love of Christ and if I could be half the coach he was I would say I had reached the pinnacle of my coaching career. The lessons he taught will stay with me for the rest of my life. We love you Coach. Thank you.
  • Debbie Hornsby
    George, You should be commended for your tireless energy that you poured into not only every player, but into your coaches as well! It was a sheer joy and always a learning experience for each of us going to another basketball practice at CCA. I always loved your attention to fine detail! I always looked forward to learning from you!! I always appreciated your honesty, and I always appreciated so much the support from your awesome wife as this was a "couple venture" at it's best! You both will definitely be missed and well remembered in the hearts of many!
  • Gene Gionti
    When I asked George “So what are you going to do now that you are retired ?l. He replied “my biggest decision today was trying to decide if I want to take a nap today or not “. Great times riding with him on the soccer team bus this year!
  • Kelly Macomber Robinson
    The best coach that I’ve ever had! Not only in athletics, but in life. Always cared about his students and athletes like they were his own children. Love you coach and thank you for helping make me who I am today.
  • Scott Huisman
    Congratulations brother. My memories of George were when we lived in Berwyn, IL. George is 11 yrs older than I am, so we did not spend a lot of time together alone. George made a point of connecting with his little brother. One occasion George took me to a Chicago Cubs game againt the Montreal Expos. I remember him holding my hand and walking with me to the el train station. a very memorable experience for a 7yr old boy. He is a great example, and certainly followed God in his calling. Thanks, George. May God bless you and Diane in retirement.

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