GREAT FALLS — Katherine Sunwall can barely remember the last time she wasn’t involved in multiple sports.
A multi-sport star at Great Falls High School, Sunwall competed in both basketball and volleyball at Montana Western (formerly Western Montana College), earning all-American status in each. Her name still stands in the Bulldogs’ record books — two of the top individual scoring and rebounding performances in a game, the all-time leader in career rebounds, a prestigious 1,000-point club and a list that goes on.
After graduation, Sunwall made the transition to the coaching ranks and has been mentoring young athletes in some capacity ever since.
Sunwall has pulled double duty at her former school, leading the Great Falls High volleyball program for the past five years, while serving as a longtime assistant on the girls basketball team. But earlier this month, Sunwall announced she would be stepping down from the Bison volleyball position.
“I’ve been doing two sports for many, many years, whether it was playing or coaching. I’ve been doing that for a long, long time,” Sunwall said. “I felt like it was time and I needed to focus, this is going to sound a little selfish, but just to focus on myself a little bit. I was really tired and I just needed a break. It was such a tough decision because I really love the girls in our program. I think we have great potential coming up, for sure, but it felt like it was time to take a break. I’ll still do basketball, but it was a very tough decision, one that I’m very sad, but excited, as well.”
Sunwall, a kindergarten teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes in Great Falls, says she is excited to spend more time focusing on her classroom but admits having free time after school from August to November is another added perk.
“Exactly. I don’t even remember the last time I had an August off. It will be very interesting. I’ll definitely be spending more time outside,” she said, pausing to instruct a group of her kindergarten class during its recess hour.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, laughing. “Teaching kindergarten, too, is very busy, so I just needed a break.”