Just To Be Asking: Austin Kunz

Dave Weatherwax/The Herald
Northeast Dubois senior Austin Kunz, who sprawled back to first base in a game earlier this month against Southridge, has started in the Jeep infield since his freshman year and helped Northeast Dubois reach the Class 1A regional final last spring.
















 I understand you saved your home from serious damage. Take me through what you saw when you came back to your house that morning.

I come home from my internship (at Wright Stemle) every morning between that and class up here. I come home as normal, but we keep our garage closed. I walked in the side door, and it was filled with smoke. As I got closer to the door to the house, I heard the fire alarms going off, and I walked up to the door and it was hot. I didn’t go in. I ran out to our shop and called 911. It felt like forever waiting for the fire department to get there, not knowing what was going on.


That had to be an agonizing wait.
Yeah, just sit there and wait. It’s best not to go in and let it get oxygen. They told me I did the right thing by not going in. The only thing that was going through my mind at the time is what all was damaged, if we’d be able to save anything.

What were you able to do in the meantime? Just freaking out, did you try to call other people?
I got a hold of grandma; my grandparents live down the road. I called mom and dad (Curt and Becky), and they rushed home. That’s about all you could do, is sit there and (wait for) the fire department.

Do you usually come home at that time every morning?
That day, I happened to come home early, I don’t know for some reason. I think I was going to take a shower between (my internship) and school. I came home early (by a half hour to 45 minutes), and luckily I did, otherwise we probably wouldn’t have a house.

What’s your situation now?
For the first week or two we lived with my mom’s parents down the road, and there was a house for sale three miles up the road toward Celestine that we were able to rent out until our house was finished. Right now, the whole inside of our house had to be gutted. They started this past week putting everything back in it.

How soon until you can get back in?
We’re looking to get back in before my graduation party in June. A couple weeks yet.
Ah, yes. Gotta have a good place for the graduation party.
Yeah, we’ll have a new house, pretty much. We had (the party) planned before this all happened. Just hoping we can everything done and back in there before.

Do you ever remind mom and dad and your sister, that, “Yeah, I’m the one who saved the house” when it comes time for graduation gifts?
(Smiles) Yeah, I’m just glad I came home early, and luckily no one was inside at the time.
What was your family able to save from the fire?
It was the dishwasher, it was a part that malfunctioned — that’s what started it. The only thing that really burned up was the cabinets around it. Everything else was smoke damage. All our clothes, we weren’t really able to save. We kept a few things that couldn’t be replaced as far as clothes. We tried washing them, but even after four or five washes, there’s still kind of a smell. As far as clothes, there wasn’t much to save. And furniture, nothing really.

I’m sure you have quite a few belongings that you’re protective of. How much other stuff were you able to save?
We were able to clean up (a lot) of what I wouldn’t want to see go, like some of my deer that I shot a few years ago, my mount, they were able to clean that up. But clothes, that stuff can be replaced. I was worried about all my hunting clothes and my fishing equipment, but that was in the basement and they were able to save that, so that’s good.

Did you lose anything baseball-related?
One of our uniforms for baseball, I had to get new. Everything else we were able to wash and get the smell out. I actually had a basketball game that night, the day of the fire. We sent my basketball clothes off to the cleaner, and they were able to save them a little bit. You could still smell it. Other than that, I didn’t lose much baseball or basketball stuff.

You’ve been around playing varsity since your freshman year. Were you ready to play at that level back then, or was it just like, “Whoa”?
I was ready to go. Kind of ready and kind of nervous. I think I did all right, being a freshman in varsity, especially because we had nine seniors that year. I had to work hard for a spot.

You’re getting to the postseason in about a month and playing in a new sectional. You guys are 3-for-3 in the new sectional so far — volleyball team won, you won in boys basketball, and girls basketball also. Pressure on for you guys now?
I guess it is, but we’ve just got to do what we do and play hard, and play all the new teams down there how we play. Hopefully we’ll meet up with someone from our (old) sectional in regional.

Interview by Brendan Perkins

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