Mr. Cunningham incorporates basketball into his teaching        

By J1 Reporter Cassie Bauer

Although Mr. Peter Cunningham does not wear a coaching whistle around his neck any more, he has continued to incorporate his basketball background into his algebra and college math classes here at Marian. 

Cunningham spent most of his early life either playing basketball or coaching the sport. Some of his fondest memories playing basketball were made playing for Creighton Prep in high school. Even though Mr. C never got the chance to play in the current Heider Center, he spent his high school basketball career balling in the old gym. Despite the vast difference in size, Cunningham said that, “the birdcage still packed the bleachers every big game.” 

Mr. Peter Cunningham, No. 50 (middle back row) and his Creighton Prep Junior Varsity basketball team in 2006. Photo source: Cunningham’s Facebook post.

One game that particularly stood out to Mr. C was an intense buzzer-beater-win against the number one seed, Omaha Bryan, his senior year. The Junior Jays had lost to them twice prior to the state tournament, however, in the last few seconds of the state quarterfinal game, Cunningham’s teammate, Ted Stessman, put a tip in at the buzzer to beat Bryan 50-49, advancing Creighton Prep onto the state semifinals. 

Once Mr. Cunningham graduated in 2007 and his own basketball career came to an end, he took on the position of assistant coach at Creighton Prep where he coached for seven years. After his successful career at Prep, he came to Marian as the assistant coach for two years and the head coach for five years. Mr. C’s favorite thing about coaching at Marian was, “watching my players develop skills in their four years to help them be successful on and off the court,” and beating an undefeated Millard South team in a major upset in 2020. 

After Cunningham stepped down from his role as head coach he continued to incorporate his love for basketball into his math classes. His notorious review game, trashketball, became a staple in his classroom. Trashketball is a game where students toss a ball into a trash can to earn extra points after answering a math question correctly. 

Freshman Grace Tynan, a student in his algebra class, said that trashketball is a, “fun, competitive game where I’m still able to learn math skills.” While Mr. C is no longer coaching from the sidelines of the basketball court, yelling out plays or encouraging his players in a huddle, he has transferred much of his coaching background and strategies into teaching math. Tynan states that trasketball is, “a great way to help students get extra credit while also allowing him to enjoy the sport he used to coach.” 

Mr. Cunningham’s transition from coaching his players in basketball to coaching his students in the classroom illustrates the importance basketball has in his life and how the lessons he learned in the sport carried over into his own personal life. 

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