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Dan Bunz: Solid role model for young athletes

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POSTED December 16, 2008 4:52 a.m.
The name Dan Bunz may not ring a bell with many folks in Manteca unless you’re a die-in-the-wool San Francisco 49er fan.
Bunz was the linebacker who made “The Stop” during Super Bowl XVI against the Cincinnati Bengals on a critical third-and-goal. Bengals receiver Charles Alexander had taken a short pass in the right flat. Bunz quickly reacted, grabbed Alexander around the waist and then threw him backward. A low tackle would have meant a score. On the next down, Bunz and the rest of the defensive line held. San Francisco went on to win 26-21.
Bunz is one of the special guests that’ll be on hand for the Manteca Sports Heroes 2009 Hall of Distinction on Feb. 28.
Bunz is the perfect guy to have at the event being staged by the Manteca Convention & Visitors Bureau sports commission. Not simply because he was two-time contributor to San Francisco 49er Super Bowl titles, but because of the difference sports made in his life.
Bunz was born and raised in Roseville in Placer County.
If Bunz were a young boy today, you’d classify him as an at-risk youth. There was no father figure in his daily life as a pre-teen so his mother got him involved with the Big Brothers/Little Brothers program. The gentleman, who was his Big Brother, worked as a salesman for the now shuttered Marconi Oldsmobile dealership on Riverside Avenue. He took his role as a “mentor” seriously. He even went the extra mile when he noticed the young Bunz wearing an old, worn-out coat and dug into his own pocket to buy him a new one.
Bunz was also fortunate that when he got to Oakmont High as a freshman, there was a coaching staff in place that took their mission seriously. It wasn’t to build championships, but it was to build winners.
Bunz found his stability — or lifesaver if you well — in sports. It gave him a purpose. It gave him drive and determination to do well academically. He landed a scholarship to play collegiate ball with the Long Beach State 49ers.
Less than one percent of all high school athletes are going to make it to the promised land of collegiate scholarships. But you can bet almost all gained something just as valuable — if not more valuable — than a college scholarship. They learned the importance of delayed gratification, working as a team, following instructions, setting goals, and the importance of camaraderie.
The annual Manteca event celebrates those who succeed in their chosen athletic fields whether it is as player, a coach or an official. But in a bigger sense it showcases the importance of sports in the lives of those who take part in them.
Even if Bunz had never donned No. 57 for the red and gold and made the defensive stop that electrified the 49er Faithful, he would have been a winner thanks to the attitudes and disciplines he learned playing sports.
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