RJ “Lundy” Lundstrom


Natalya Larez, Cougar Tales Editor

Papa Bear, aka “Lundy”, aka Vice Principal RJ Lundstrum, started off as a Sabino Sabercat.  He graduated from Sabino in 1978 and left a claim-to-fame legacy there as a starting quarterback and point guard.  And even though he began high school with an ignominious moment – he threw up in his Spanish class freshman year – the Sabercats overlooked this and even inducted him into the Sabino Hall of Fame. While football was his passion back in the day, he found a new niche in coaching swim – something he did for 25 years.

He started coaching swimming as a senior in high school, and would soon find out coaching swim is something he is talented at and thoroughly enjoyed. Sadly, life got in the way after graduation, and he had to take a break from coaching until his late 20’s. He coached for the United States Club Swimming Team for 20 years, having amazing success with it. After that, he began coaching at Foothills, going on to win 7 state championships, despite only coaching the team for 4 years (4 boys’ teams and 3 girls’ teams won the championships). “Talent goes a long way to making that happen.”

When asked what his “claim to fame” was in his years of coaching, Lundy responded, “Well I coached 4 Olympic try-out qualifiers, 27 high school all-Americans, and then of course the state championships.”

Lundy started his career at Sahuaro as an AP American Government and Economics teacher but moved up to Assistant Principal. Originally, he thought he would be able to make a big difference in instruction and education and oversee the athletic department. He wanted to have a bigger impact on students’ lives. In fact, at Sahuaro, he helped win 3 Athletic cups in a row!  “The first thing you have to do is get a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership. Part of that process is not only taking classes to understand the law, instruction, and leadership, but also an internship at different schools. You have to shadow and hang out with people. Then, you go through the application process, and win the job.” Lundy applied to Tucson High, Sahuaro, Sabino, Pueblo, and even some schools outside of the TUSD district before landing a job here, at Sahuaro High School.

Many of us at Sahuaro know him for his booming voice – he can easily be heard yelling down the halls for kids to get to class, and we’ve all been startled awake when he occasionally gets on the loudspeaker to announce something.  As a matter of fact, when asked what he would have done for a career if he didn’t get into education, he replied, “I’d love to do radio or voice-over work.”  But, if he should have anyone for a teacher, dead or alive, he would choose Milton Friedman. (Who?? you might be asking).  The “Nobel Prize winner in Economics free-marketing guru” or “Barry Goldwater” for his knowledge of Arizona history.

Papa Bear is old school.  His guilty pleasure is still his cigars, which he began smoking about 9 years ago. “To cut down on them, you limit yourself. Such as, only smoking on the weekends. However, the best way is to quit cold turkey.” And if he absolutely HAD to live inside of a T.V. show, he would choose That 70’s Show.  “It reflects the time I grew up in accurately,” he says.

He loves being a grandpa and even his grandkids call him Papa Bear.  His love for his family is evident – (My favorite age growing up was) “31 – the year my son was born.”  And, if you know what Admin has to deal with all day long, every day, you wouldn’t be surprised to know that he says, “I love my dog Eli more than a lot of people.”