Librarian inspires students through sports

Kayla Aldridge

There is much more to Ernesto Nuñez than meets the eye.  While many know him as the library specialist, others know him as the cross country and wrestling coach.

Teaching qualities Nuñez has picked up on while working with students in high-risk communities have shaped the kind of teacher and coach he strives to be at Redwood.

Nuñez makes a point to do everything in his power to make sure his students are provided with whatever tools necessary for their success, both on sports teams and in the classroom.

“I open the doors to the gym at 6 a.m. for kids who want to work out in the morning,” Nuñez said. “The style of work I bring here to the library is also a measure of both training and education. I try to greet everybody with a smile and say hi, and if there’s anything I can do or anything I can help with, I provide it for them.”

Ernesto Nuñez trains with one of his athletes in preparation for the upcoming wrestling season.

Growing up in a household with a single mother and two sisters, Nuñez described his upbringing as a struggle, but he has translated his experience into a positive coaching style.

“My mom had to work hard to provide for us, and now it’s different,” Nuñez said. “We don’t have to struggle the way we used to, and I coach that way too, to take what you have, because you don’t just get given, you have to earn it. I don’t like to get back to that part of my life, but what I like to get back to is giving the coaching I never recieved in high school.”

The students Nuñez coaches spoke fondly of him.

“He’s a really good motivator. He’s always doing our workouts with us and pushes us to do better,” said junior Jaclyn Alvarado, a cross country runner.

Nuñez students and athletes say he always goes the extra mile to help out.

“I like to build a relationship with my students and athletes,” Nuñez said.  “They see me at school here in the library, we practice together in the gym, and the younger kids in cross country, I’ll run with them,” Nuñez said.

In one word, Nuñez’s cross country athletes described him as enthusiastic.

“He’s not what I would call the traditional coach,” said junior wrestler Riley Dow. “He likes to joke around with us, and deep down he is still a kid himself. He brings a good intensity with humor to wrestling practice.”

Much of Nuñez’s coaching style was adapted from styles he has picked up along the way, and whatever he practices is based off of experience.

“You’ll hear a lot of parents say, ‘I want to provide and give my kids what I didn’t have,’ and the same goes for me with teaching and working,” Nuñez said.

After Nuñez left high school, he knew that working with students was something he wanted to pursue, but it wasn’t until he volunteered as a coach at his old high school, played competitively in college, and worked with low-income students that he realized the library was his niche.

“I knew I wanted to work in the education field as a teacher, in special ed, or as a coach,” Nuñez said.

Before Nuñez began his career as a librarian, he spent five and a half years working as a special education instructor and helping at-risk youth in after school elementary classes.

“It was an emotionally disturbed classroom. I would run the after school class to help [children] with their homework, do enrichment activities, have outside time, and I did that for about five years,” Nuñez said.

Although Nuñez has been in the teaching industry for over eight years, he never thought he would work in the library.

“At first I didn’t think I’d end up in here,” Nuñez said. “I thought I would’ve preferred to stay in the classroom, but being in the library provides a unique opportunity to work with just about everybody. I just want students to remember me as someone who helped them see what options they had in front of them, someone who opened doors for them and made the library a fun place to be.”