New AD Michael Bruns returns to the Knights’ fold

Michael Bruns, 31, Union’s new Activities Director and At Risk Coordinator, pictured at Union Stadium in La Porte City during preseason football on Friday, August 20, 2021. Bruns was a Union Knight himself once upon a time, lettering in football, basketball, tennis, and baseball. Photo by Soren M. Peterson

Union alum Michael Bruns has returned to the fold.

Bruns — a 2008 Union graduate and La Porte City native — was hired in June of this year as the next Union Knights Activities Director/At Risk Coordinator and he couldn’t be more at peace with his decision.

“It feels very familiar,” Bruns said on a recent Friday in August as he stood next to the field in La Porte’s Union Stadium, a scrimmage between the Knights and South Tama Trojans taking place behind him.

“Being back is a good thing. I thought our facilities were great when I was here, but this…” Bruns trailed off as he looked around the complex that was built just two years after he graduated high school.

Prior to accepting the Union AD position — which came open due to Wayne Slack’s internal move to Union Middle School principal — Bruns was working as activities director and coaching baseball at Calamus-Wheatland Community School District where his wife Mackenzie was also a teacher.

But Bruns’ first teaching job after graduating from Ashford University-Clinton was with Northeast Community School District in Goose Lake.

[At Northeast] I taught full time P.E. I honestly didn’t know that you could just be an AD. I worked with a guy at Northeast in my first [teaching] job and he was AD there — that piqued my interest a little bit.”

When the AD position at Union came up, Bruns felt a pull to move back home.

“I interviewed on a Monday, [Mackenzie] interviewed the following day. After my interview on Monday, I thought, it’s going to be impossible to do the job without her as well.”

Luckily Bruns didn’t have to make that decision.

“She’s now a first grade teacher at DG [Dysart-Geneseo Elementary].”

While in high school, Bruns was a four-sport athlete playing football, basketball, tennis, and baseball.

After graduation, he headed to South Dakota’s Wesleyan University.

“I played football and baseball while I was there. Then I transferred to Ashford [University] and played baseball. I was an outfielder and I pitched a little bit. Football-wise they had me at d-back.”

That experience of playing college sports is something Bruns hopes he can foster with students at Union.

“As a college athlete I can maybe push in that direction. There’s a lot of good athletics out there that’s not D1. [College sports] gives you a group to be with. You can’t just sit at home, in the dorm.”

Bruns is also looking forward to being involved in the other half of his AD position — fine arts.

“One thing I really enjoy about [AD] is the fine arts aspect of it. … I’ll get to touch base with all students.”

He may choose to coach high school sports in the future as he did in his previous two teaching/AD positions, but he’s not quite ready for that yet.

“There’s some flexibility with coaching and being AD, but this first year I just want to focus on my at risk coordinator position.”

Asked if there are many familiar faces in the Union staff from back when he was a student, Bruns shakes his head.

“There really are no familiar faces. Just a few older teachers. A couple of volunteer assistant coaches were here [when I was in high school].”

Bruns does have a nephew — his godchild — seventh grader Gavin Frederiksen who he can watch out for and his wife, of course, who — in addition to teaching at DG — is also the new assistant volleyball coach.

Things have changed, Bruns admitted, but only for the better as he turned to look behind the visiting team’s bleachers, pointing toward the school.

“Where the new weight room is? That was our home plate.”

Bruns and his family including sons Evan, 4, and Jackson, 2, have made their home in Dysart.