A Coach’s Life: Klutz wins 300th game, but the number of lives he’s changed matters most to Wonders leader – Independent Tribune

Posted: February 21, 2020 at 12:41 pm

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KANNAPOLIS 298, 299, 300.

Those are all just numbers to Shelwyn Klutz. And none of them have any more significance than the other to the longtime A.L. Brown boys basketball coach.

People have been talking with him about those numbers recently, wishing to recognize him for a career-victories milestone that lingered as a bit of a mystery last week. The number of coaching wins wasnt important to Klutz when he took the job in 1997, and it sure isnt now.

When the Wonders defeated Jay M. Robinson 70-68 on Tuesday, Klutz and others in the A.L. Brown athletic department received information that it was victory No. 298. However, by the weekend, updated information from a couple of media outlets (new math, if you will) confirmed it was actually Klutz 300th career victory.

Regardless of how all the past, current and future victories shake out, numbers should never define Klutz or his career. Words should. And when he finally hangs up his whistle a time that is still undetermined among the few that will come to mind are winner, mentor and gentleman.

The one thing I always try and do is influence the kids in a positive way, said Klutz. Of course, I want to win, but I try not to ever make it about me as a coach. Ive had my time in basketball. Its taken me a lot of places. Ive met a lot of outstanding people.

Shelwyn Klutz (right) and assistant coach Davon Brown collaborate on a strategy.

It paid for my (college) education. It helped me get the (teaching) job that Ive had for 30 years, something I dont really want to call it a job because I enjoy it. But I always wanted to try to help other people get to where they want. And I hope Ive done a good job of that.

So although no formal recognition of the milestone has taken place, the A.L. Brown boys basketball team can begin the South Piedmont 3A Conference tournament tonight and next weeks state playoffs without any distractions.

Hes like my pops when I come into the gym, said senior point guard Amari Grier. Hes helped me with my shot, and hes made me smarter on and off the court. He works hard. He knows what hes doing.

A.L. Browns next game will be in the conference tournament semifinals against neighborhood rival Northwest Cabarrus tonight at Concord High at 7:30.

Klutz has always had a vested interest in Kannapolis and A.L. Brown. He is a native son, having played basketball and football at the school in the early 80s. His family resided in Kannapolis south Little Texas Road neighborhood, and his mother, Constance, still lives in town.

Klutz and his brother, Quintin, older by one grade, helped the Wonders reach the basketball state championship game in 1983 as players.

After graduating from Mars Hill, where he was a four-year basketball letter winner, Klutz taught a couple years at Concord Middle School. In 1991, A.L. Brown football coach and athletics director Bruce Hardin hired Klutz to be an assistant football coach and the head girls basketball coach, a position he kept for five years before sliding over to the boys team for the 1997-98 season.

The Wonders football team won the state championship in 1997, which posed an inner conflict for the schools new boys basketball coach.

I had half of my basketball players playing football, said Klutz. We would try to push basketball games back, but you can only do that so much. So we would have to play (varsity games) with junior varsity players. It was something that went on for a long time.

Klutzs first few years as basketball coach were lean. It wasnt until his fifth season that the Wonders had a winning record, beginning a stretch of 12 years in which A.L. Brown had 11 winning seasons.

The Wonders won the North Piedmont 3A in 2005, Klutzs only conference championship as coach. But A.L. Brown has been a bridesmaid to several other league champions, including each of the last two seasons.

Klutz has coached several Division I college athletes including Avery Patterson (a 2004 A.L. Brown graduate who played at St. Johns), Teven Jones (2011, Virginia), and Aundrae Allison (2002). Allison played football at East Carolina and for a short time in the NFL.

It would be hard to accuse Klutz of ever playing favorites with his players. In the ultimate act of fairness, Klutz agonizingly cut his own son, Jalen, from the junior varsity team during his freshman year, simply feeling he wasnt as physically or mentally mature as the other candidates.

Since 1997, Shelwyn Klutz has been the head basketball coach at his alma mater, A.L. Brown.

Jalen went on to have a solid varsity career. His older brother, Shelwyn Jr., never played basketball for his father. He was a member of the A.L. Brown swim team instead.

In Klutzs time as boys coach, the Wonders have competed in some of the toughest conferences and in one of the best basketball counties in the state. A.L. Brown has been a member of a conference in which one of its teams won a state title five times. Two additional times, one of the Wonders Cabarrus County rivals won state championships.

By all accounts, the 23 years Klutz has spent leading the Wonders is a record for longevity at one school among county boys basketball coaches. And only one other coach, Scott Brewer who spent time at Mount Pleasant, Central Cabarrus and Concord has more career victories (448) than Klutz.

It seems like there was always something on the line (coaching against Klutz), said Brewer, who left coaching in 2013. For most years, it was for one, two, or three in the conference. He was consistent with having solid teams.

Shelwyn Klutz (left) brainstorms with his staff, which includes Davon Brown (center) and brother Quintin Klutz (far right), to help the Wonders win.

Whats also impressive is the loyalty of some of Klutzs assistant coaches hes employed over the years. James Allen was his bench mate for 18 seasons. Current coaches Davon Brown and Klutzs brother Quintin have been with him for six-seven years.

For the last few years, Klutz has considered giving up coaching. The 31 years hes spent teaching would allow him to retire from the classroom with full benefits. But even Quintin doesnt know what the future holds for his brother.

For the last 10 years, hes been saying, This is it for me, said Quintin, who is also the Wonders JV coach. But hes still here. I think it will be a day-to-day decision.

Shelwyn Klutz credits the support of his wife, Carletta, for his long career and says he simply just wants to go out on his own terms. And when he reflects on having spent such a long career at his alma mater, he thinks about one thing.

Ive been lucky, he said. Ive been blessed.

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A Coach's Life: Klutz wins 300th game, but the number of lives he's changed matters most to Wonders leader - Independent Tribune

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February 21st, 2020 at 12:41 pm

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