Janesville man scores big in HospiceCare Wish program
The 85-year-old Janesville man got to spend quality time with Wisconsin Badgers mens basketball head coach Bo Ryan and his team at the Kohl Center in Madison.
"We talked about 15 minutes before he got his practice going and quite some time after practice was over," Sunby said.
"He was a perfect gentleman."
Ryan was curious about some of the coaches Sunby knew because Sunby had spent four decades coaching basketball, baseball and football during the height of his teaching career.
"He threw questions out at me—asked about certain people I knew from the coaching ranks," Sunby said.
Although Sunby knew more coaches from the southwestern part of the state, he also knew veteran basketball official Otto Puls, who now is a manager for Ryan's basketball team.
"Otto officiated some games when I was coaching at Johnson Creek," Sunby said.
After watching Ryan's two-hour practice, Sunby said Ryan isn't tough; he's precise.
"He tells his young men exactly what he wants them to do. When you're a coach, you're also a teacher," Sunby said.
He earned a degree from Milton College before becoming a history teacher at Johnson Creek High School in 1948. During his time there, he coached baseball, basketball and converted the six-man football team to an 11-man team. His list of accomplishments includes two trips to the state tournament.
In 1953, Sunby took a job teaching physical education at Edgerton High School, where he was involved in coaching three sports.
His love for coaching convinced Sunby to pursue a master's degree in physical education from UW-Madison.
Sunby later became athletic director at East High School in Green Bay. In 1972, the high school expanded and became South West High School, where Sunby developed the athletic program from the ground up. When Sunby retired in 1987, the student body dedicated the gym in his honor, HospiceCare said.
He now is a resident at Huntington Place in Janesville. He is being treated for congestive heart failure.
Sunby's HospiceCare care team, led by social worker Shelly Holtz, wanted to do something special to honor his career as a coach and partnered with HospiceCare's Wish Program to make it a reality.
"It was very interesting, enjoyable," Sunby said about his time with Ryan and the Badger team.
"I knew he had a great record from (UW-)Platteville, and he's done a tremendous job with the Badgers. But he's not the least bit arrogant," Sunby said.
"He's just a down-to-earth guy."