VIENNA, Va. — A high school football coach and teacher in Fairfax County, who was struck and killed by a car Saturday in Springfield, is being remembered for his “huge heart” and dedication to his students.
Leonard Schultz, 52, graduated from James Madison High School in Vienna, where he would later return to teach and to coach football and wrestling. His unique approach to coaching — staying positive, focusing on the players’ strengths, and tackling grades, family problems and life lessons — earned him the devotion of his players and students, said two of his fellow coaches.
“We had great success on the field in terms of wins and losses. But really his impact was more on being a leader and molding young men and preparing them for life and family and opportunities down the road,” said Tim Hecht, a lifelong friend of Schultz’s and the offensive coordinator at Madison. “There’s no doubt that he had a tremendous impact on, it’s fair to say, thousands of kids.”
Many of the boys Schultz worked with considered him to be not only a mentor, but also a father figure, Hecht said.
“Lenny was tough with them and he demanded discipline, but he taught with love,” he said. “He cared about the individual. So he took care of them on the field, but more importantly, he took care of them off the field.”
In the classroom, Schultz was a special-education teacher and encouraged his students to take part in school activities like playing sports or working as a team manager, said Shawn Hutchison, a fellow teacher who worked with Schultz coaching football and wrestling.
Schultz had a “huge heart,” Hutchison said, and he put just as much effort into his teaching as he did coaching.
“He was good at the whole ‘the team is a family’ aspect, and the kids respond to that,” Hutchison said. “When kids know someone cares about them the way he did, they want to do great things for them.”
Hutchison said the loss to the tight-knit community of Vienna, which he described as a small town in the big city, would be profound.
Members of the football team gathered with their coaches and grief counselors on Sunday – there were hugs and tears, Hecht said.
And although Friday was the last day of the school year, the school was open on Monday to students who wanted to meet with counselors.
Monday evening, a steady stream of students visited a make-shift memorial at the back of the school near the athletics fields to pay their respects.
Schultz is survived by his wife, two children and several stepchildren. And he loved spending time on the Chesapeake Bay boating and fishing with his family, the two coaches said.
He was returning from a fishing trip in Maryland with his brother and nephew on Saturday when he was struck by a box truck that had veered into the median as he re-secured a boat hitch. His nephew Edward Albert Schultz, a 24-year-old lieutenant in the Navy, was critically injured and remained in the hospital on Monday.
Viewings are set for later this week, and a private funeral is planned for the weekend.
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