While all are not unfamiliar faces, Augusta Christian’s coaching landscape is a bit different this year.
After a summer of turnover, the fall season features Katie Bruce as the new swim coach, Estevan Price as the new cross country coach, Giulanna Cunningham at the helm of the volleyball program and Matt Klimas has the reins of the baseball program.
“I think we have just added four oustanding coaches,” said athletic director Marty Griffin. “Even though all four are relatively inexperienced, I think all four are highly motivated self-starters. I think they’re going to fit right in with our athletic program.”
A self-described military brat, Bruce was a competitive swimmer from age 8 and swam for Lakeside High School as a freshman before her family moved to San Antonio. She started college at the University of Arkansas and ended up graduating from Georgia Regents University with a psychology degree. She is pursuing a masters in education at GRU while she works as a teacher’s assistant at Augusta Christian.
With just one meet under their belt, Price likes what she has seen from the team, especially with two Augusta Christian swimmers already ranked in the top-10 of their events.
“I’m very proud of them so far and I’m proud of the team,” Bruce said. “They have a great attitude and great love for their school and for the sport, and I hope to cultivate that some more and be able to improve those times and get even more of my swimmers in the top 10 of their events.”
Cunningham has been working with the volleyball team for a month and, like Bruce, likes the direction the program is headed.
“I’m really excited because the girls have improved a lot from the first time I saw them practice,” Cunningham said. “I’m just trying to teach them what I know, what my coach told me when I was their age.”
Cunningham has a wealth of volleyball knowledge to pass on. A native of Lima, Peru, she played volleyball for the Peruvian national team from 1997-2001 and competed in events around the world. She jumped at the chance to immigrate to the United States when Florida A&M gave her a full scholarship to play for the Lady Rattlers. She graduated with honors in 2006 with a degree in Spanish literature and a minor in education.
While working for her husband’s maintenance and trucking company, which she still does, Cunningham jumped when she saw the volleyball coach position was open.
“I was looking for a job to do what I love to do, and that’s volleyball,” Cunningham said.
Price is no stranger to the Lions’ community as he is a member of the finance committee and board and has been doing IT work at the school since 2011.
A rower at Augusta College, which he graduated from in 1995, Price re-made himself as a runner over the past five years and has graduated from 5Ks up to completing his first full Ironman in Louisville, Ky.
“They asked me to step up and be the varsity coach before the summer and I really jumped at the opportunity because I had been running some with the kids last year,” said Price, who spent 15 years as a certified public accountant after college. “I think it was just a new avenue I wanted to pursue.”
Price sees a bright future ahead for his runners.
“I think a lot in the program has to change to make it competitive and we’ve made some good strides this year to start implementing some of that growth,” Price said.
Klimas first came to Augusta in 2008, spending two years with the Augusta GreenJackets as a member in the San Francisco Giants organization. After his baseball career was over, he came back to Augusta – where he had met his wife while playing for the GreenJackets – two years ago after getting a job with Best 9 Sports Academy.
“I coached the local homeschool baseball team from out of that building basically and played against Augusta Christian and when I heard that the job opened up I threw my résumé in there,” said Klimas, who also works as a teacher’s assistant with middle school-age students in the school’s talent development program.
Coming in, Klimas knew what to expect from the Lions’ team.
“I coached against them last year and they do have talent,” Klimas said. “I think they can go a long way. They’re very young, which is a good thing, but it’s a matter of those young guys believing they can do it and stepping up to the challenge rather than letting the chips fall where they may with things. I’m excited to work with that. I’ve always been the underdog and I feel that’s kind of how we are as well.”