When Lonnie Hursey signed on to coach the Ostrava Steelers in the Czech Republic last month, it marked the start of his 14th year of coaching football in a country outside the United States. Coaching nomad would be an apt name for Hursey.
A spreader of the gospel of American football would be a better one.
However you describe it, Lonnie Hursey is having an impact on the growth of the game.
This native of Olympia, Washington, now living in Tychy, Poland is a true football globe trotter with stops everywhere from Reus, Spain to Vila Velha, Brazil, from Pune, India to Trondheim, Norway, and seemingly everywhere in between. The list of countries is mind boggling. The 41 year old has guided teams and mentored players in Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, India, Serbia, Poland and Brazil.
His record as a coach includes four championship finals and 10 playoff appearances.
Football isn’t the only thing he has experienced though.
Having encountered so many different cultures over the past decade and a half, he has also been exposed to an amazing variety of cuisine. Tough to pick a favorite?
“There are many. Polish food is really good. Just very fatty. But my absolute favorite was in Brazil the Tarasco which is Brazilian BBQ. And all the Indian food I had when I was in India. It was so spicy food was also so full flavor and delicious I was even eating spicy food for breakfast.”
Now with his wife Kasia and their daughter Luna in tow, Hursey is headed to the Czech Republic… sort of.
“Ostrava is only an hour away from where I live in Poland so I don’t have to move there to coach the team.”
Hursey definitely enjoys a football family. He and Kasia met while he was coaching football in Denmark and she was going to school there. Luna was conceived while he was coaching in Serbia. When he travels to coach in other countries, his family goes with him including all the way to Brazil for seven months.
The 41 year old Hursey was not even planning to coach this year. He had intended on spending the year teaching English at a private school in Tychy. But the Steelers came calling after their head coach departed for Australia. Hursey asked around and heard only good things about the club, and the Polish players he knows insisted he give it a try. So he did.
“This is only the second time in all my years of coaching that I am taking over a team that is well organized and successful,” he continued.
The Ostrava Steelers have reached the Czech league final for the past three years without being able to make it over the top. They lost to the Prague Lions in the 2019 Czech Bowl by a score of 29-23.
“I know we need to find a way to get past the Prague Lions. Hopefully with our new quarterback and some good young players from Ostrava, we can do it this year.”
According to Hursey, one of the factors that played into his decision was the excellent youth program Ostrava has been building.
“This is how you build a program successfully, a program that will last, from the ground up. The Steelers have three youth teams including a U19/junior team.”
Whatever happens in Ostrava, and in Hursey’s case, it’s usually good things, he will continue to pound the drum, teaching young men, not only about football, but the life lessons the game provides.