Ex-Penn State Altoona coach leaves mark at Dartmouth

Long before Penn State Altoona moved its athletic programs up to NCAA Division III, some 30 years ago, its physical education teachers served as coaches for its half-dozen varsity sports and maintained a considerable amount of continuity on the Ivyside campus.

Names like Ed Rosenberry, Tom Brouse, Tick Hedrick-Sheaffer and George Obermeier were longtime fixtures, some even coaching two sports per calendar year.

Chuck Kinyon was part of that era, and of all the coaches Penn State Altoona has had over the years, Kinyon enjoyed the most success at the next level.

Kinyon recently retired after a distinguished tenure as men’s tennis coach at Dartmouth. His career started with six years (1969-75) at Penn State Altoona, where he coached men’s and women’s tennis and helped start the men’s soccer program.

He was dynamic, successful and ambitious enough that his colleagues sensed his upward mobility early on.

“When Chuck was at the campus, it was obvious he had a lot more to give than we had to offer,” said Denny Stewart, Penn State Altoona’s retired senior director of business operations. “It was a stepping stone.”

Kinyon, 69, went from Penn State Altoona to Phillips Exeter (N.H.) Academy, where he spent five years coaching squash before Dartmouth came calling.

He was hired as Dartmouth’s head squash coach and assistant men’s tennis coach, and said he was told, “If you don’t mess up too badly, you can do both, and in 1983, I became the head coach in both.”

He continued coaching squash until 1990, and he focused solely on tennis for the last 20 years of his career before retiring in 2010. Along the way, he led Big Green to their first Ivy League tennis championships (1993 and ’97) and became a leader in the New England tennis community.

He retired with more than 275 wins at Dartmouth.

“Chuck had an enormous impact on many generations of student-athletes in his three decades of coaching at Dartmouth,” Bob Ceplikas, deputy director of athletics at Dartmouth, wrote in an email, adding Kinyon is valued as a “devoted coach, mentor, leader and friend.”

In addition to being an active player – he plans to play in national 70-and-over tournaments next year – Kinyon remains the director of tennis at the plush Quechee Club in Vermont, near his home.

He’s done extensive traveling through tennis and was instrumental in planning Dartmouth’s tennis facility. The players’ lounge is named in his honor.

“Chuck and his wife [Sue] saw and videotaped other college tennis facilities to make sure that we used all the best ideas when designing our own facility,” Ceplikas said. “Thanks to Chuck’s hard work, we built an indoor tennis facility that Billie Jean King later called ‘the best college tennis facility in the country.”’

Kinyon didn’t have quite those digs at Penn State Altoona. In fact, he helped dig the fields to give the soccer team an opportunity, and tennis practices were held at 6 a.m. due to lack of court availability.

It strengthened his work ethic and taught him about resourcefulness.

“We [PSU Altoona coaches] did everything,” he said, laughing at the memory. “I learned so much at that job. They didn’t make you clean the johns, but we did everything but clean the johns. We were the trainers, the van drivers, the fund raisers. You had to do things like that in order to create programs, and the kids in a lot of ways were more appreciative.”

The men’s tennis team won the PSU Commonwealth Campus Athletic Conference championship five times.

“Coach Kinyon taught me more about gamesmanship than any other part of the game,” Pat Dandrea, a member of the ’75 team, said. “He was probably the best tactical coach I ever had in any sport. He also worked you hard but made it fun at the same time.”

Kinyon remembers the community support that allowed the ’75 team to participate in the national tourney. It had qualified, but the event was held in Florida, and funds needed to be raised.

“Ronny Dandrea [Pat’s father] lent us his station wagon,” Kinyon said. “They put it on the auto train so we could have transportation in Florida. That was a big thing for the kids … I have tremendous memories of Altoona. I learned so much. Every coach should have to go through that. Too many coaches get things handed to them because they were pretty good players, and they don’t understand the nuts and bolts. The administration part is huge in coaching, and Altoona was a great training process.”

Often through tennis, Kinyon forged a good rapport with players, students and faculty alike.

“He was unbelievable as a tennis player,” Stewart said. “We were all young, and we all played. Chuck had a super relationship with the kids that he coached. He was just really involved. He would play basketball; he was on the faculty softball team with [Dennis] Murray and Brouse. Chuck was always a delight to be around.”

Of course, Stewart pointed out, Penn State Altoona had fewer than 1,000 students then. It has nearly 4,000 today.

“Chuck was a fun guy and a fierce competitor who excelled in everything he did,” Brouse said. “He was a great athlete – really good with racquet sports, and he was a good basketball player, too. He was really dedicated to the profession and was always looking to better the program. And it was difficult then because we pretty much did everything ourselves. We didn’t have all the assistance they have today.

“But we had tremendous support from the community and strived to get a lot of the great local athletes. He worked hard at that, too.”

Kinyon has remained in touch with some of his players, including Tom Glenn, a Tyrone product who later became an assistant coach at Harvard, Scott Schaefer, a teaching pro in the New York area, Steve Pappas of Altoona and Greg Stockbower.

During his stay here, he also was a regular at the Blair Racquet Club (now ProCare), where he played with and against the likes of Bill Parsons, Steve Parsons, George Cardone, Casaba “Chubba” Balazs and Terri Corrado.

“It was great when they got that facility because we had no place to play indoors,” Kinyon said.

Kinyon swung through for a visit several years ago. He had dinner with Stewart, Brouse and Hedrick and was pleased with Penn State Altoona’s significant growth, academically and athletically.

“I was impressed,” he said. “It was beautiful, and I was thrilled to see they have a soccer field and stadium. That knocked me off my feet, and they have more than three tennis courts. It was a delight to go back.”

It brought him back to the roots of a career, from here to the Ivy League, which he calls “unbelievable.”

“I can’t say how great it was,” he said humbly. “I still stay in touch with a lot of the guys on Facebook and to be able to work with kids who were so much brighter than me was very challenging and very rewarding.”

Now, racquet still in hand, he splits time between a winter stay in Naples, Fla., and Vermont.

“Life,” he said, “has been pretty good.”

Mirror Managing Editor Neil Rudel is at 946-7527.