by Pat McManamon '75
Rudy Kirbus ’06 appreciates individual honors, but insists that the bigger picture be emphasized as he talks about his time as a two-sport standout at Saint Ignatius High School.
“I’m the one being recognized, and it’s a great honor,” Kirbus says of being inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame. “But I want to share it with all the teammates, coaches, and family who made it all possible.”
Noted, from a man whose name appears often in the school record book.
Kirbus earned seven letters – four in basketball, three in football. He started at quarterback in the 2004 and 2005 seasons, and threw for more than 4,000 yards in his career. He still holds the school record for touchdown passes (43). In basketball he was a three-year starter and still holds school records for most free throws made in a game (19), total points in a season (588), season scoring average (27.6) and total points in a career (1,357). He was captain of both the football and basketball teams as a senior.
Kirbus went on to more basketball success in college at John Carroll University. He spent two years as an assistant coach at JCU while earning his master’s in education, then five as an assistant at Case Western Reserve University. In 2019 he was hired as head varsity coach at Andrews Osborne Academy in Willoughby.
He got married last Labor Day weekend to Katie. The couple now lives in Willoughby on the Osborne campus, where Katie teaches kindergarten and Rudy teaches health and physical education and soon will be associate director of admissions.
“When you’re at Ignatius you learn things every day, but I don’t think you realize at the time all that they are telling you and teaching you,” Kirbus says. “The farther you get away the more you see that the lessons are the things you carry with you every day in life.”
Kirbus says as a coach he runs some of the same out-of-bounds plays Brian Becker ’77 used with the Wildcats, and with the same names. He credits Becker, football coach Chuck Kyle ’69, offensive coordinator Nick Restifo Hon. ’19, strength coach Tom Rini, and trainer Hank Gaughan Hon. ’19 as major influences.
“Now I’m sharing the same things they taught me and trying to pass them on,” Kirbus says. “Playing football helped me as a basketball player, and playing basketball helped me as a football player. I think I did better academically in the fall and winter than the spring when I had more free time.
“When I was busy I was better off.”
He cited two special memories, the first when he was a junior and the Wildcats beat a top-ranked St. Edward football team, 26-10, at Byers Field.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen more people at a high school sporting event in my life,” Kirbus says. “The stands were packed; people were standing five deep around the field.”
In basketball, his memories to go tournament games at Baldwin-Wallace, all of which he called special.
“You now realize that Saint Ignatius is a special network to be part of,” he says. “There’s not a week or two that goes by that somebody doesn’t ask me about it. Ignatius is going to be a part of my life forever, and it’s a big part of my life now.”