Fate brought Miners cross-country coach Steve Cuttitta to Park City 12 years ago, and he doesn’t plan on leaving
A combination of fate and good timing brought Steve Cuttitta to Park City High School.
When Cuttitta moved to Utah in 2008, he was in search of a job as a teacher and hopefully, a cross country coach.
He doesn’t remember the exact date of his hiring, but he does remember the story behind it.
Living in Heber with his wife Erica at the time, Cuttitta knew he needed a job. After coaching cross-country and teaching at his alma mater, Powers Catholic High School in Flint, Michigan, Cuttitta wanted the same thing.
After applying to a multitude of places in and around Heber Valley, PCHS offered Cuttitta jobs teaching English and coaching cross-country on a Monday. He quickly accepted, knowing it was a good job with a good salary that had a good reputation based on his and Erica’s research.
Before he could be thrilled at starting the next step in his life, Cuttitta was offered the job at Wasatch High School, a mere walk away from where he and Erica were living. And now he was faced with a decision to make: stay on track at Park City or change lanes to Wasatch.
Cuttitta chose Park City, and it’s a decision he and Erica haven’t regretted.
“I needed a few days to think about the offer from Wasatch because it was something I truly needed to consider,” Cuttitta said. “It’s crazy because if Wasatch would’ve offered first and then Park City a few days later, I probably would’ve chosen Wasatch right away. It was kind of like we (he and Erica) know this is where we wanted our kids to grow up so when it came to it, we trusted that Park City was the right spot, and 12 years later it’s still true.
“This is home.”
Cuttitta found his love for distance running in Flint, but only after he quit football following his freshman year because he was “sick of getting beat up and hit everyday.” His parents wouldn’t let him sit around and do nothing during the fall, so he decided to run, beginning his sophomore year, to get into shape for the upcoming basketball season.
By his senior season, Cuttitta was strictly a runner by doing cross-country in the fall and track and field in the spring, winning the state championship that same year in cross-country.
“At the time, winning the state title was the highlight of my life, the best feeling ever,” Cuttitta said. “It only took a few days to love running because what I really liked was the more effort I put in, the more success I got out of it. … If I try harder than the guy next to me, presumably I can pass him and I really liked that feeling of controlling my own success.”
Cuttitta would later earn a scholarship to NCAA DI Western Michigan, competing primarily in the 1,500-meter all four years before graduating in the spring of 2004. By the fall of that same year, he was a teacher and cross-country coach at tiny Climax-Scotts High School in Climax, Michigan, 16 miles from Kalamazoo.
Despite the school’s diminutive size, with just 40 kids in its senior graduating class, Cuttitta fell in love with coaching instantly that first year.
“When I coached there, I was lucky enough to get a couple of kids that could run and even one who won a state championship that November,” Cuttitta said. “But coaching them and seeing the joy and everything they went through, I was hooked on coaching and knew it was something I wanted to do.
Cuttitta would later leave Climax-Scotts and return Powers Catholic because a job opened up, a move that was solely worth it because it’s where he met and fell in love with his now-wife Erica, thanks to an unlikely person.
“Her mom totally set us up,” Cuttitta recalled with a laugh.
Just three years later, Cuttitta and Erica got the bug to move to a mountain town, checking out places in both Colorado and Utah before settling in the area. Since Erica got hired in Salt Lake City as an IT specialist at the time, Cuttitta was forced to find a job in the area, leading to the good timing with Park City.
“I liked the way it worked out with the application and I felt good about it the interview process,” Cuttitta said of Park City High School. “I just felt like that was a good fit for me, especially since I was able to coach as well. I had already met with the head coach (Jeff Wyant) and he basically told me that if I was hired as a teacher, I would be hired as a coach as well.”
Cuttitta initially led the girls cross-country team beginning in 2008, winning seven consecutive state titles through 2014. He was named head coach of the program in 2014 after Wyant left for North Carolina.“Cross-country is very black and white in the sense that it’s all on you and there’s no one to blame but yourself,” Cuttitta said. “From the first race till the last race, kids can see a true improvement in themselves. … Watching them set new PRs, the joy they get is what always makes it worth it in the end and what I love getting to watch most about coaching.”
For Cuttitta though, he isn’t just a coach whose running days are behind him.
In 2016, he was crowned as the Triple Trail Challenge champion — a three-part event that includes a half marathon, a steeplechase and a marathon over a span of two and a half months in the summer.
Recently, Cuttitta has taken time away from racing marathons, settling for shorter distance races because it allows quicker training and recovery periods. This allows him to spend more time with his three kids: Kennedy, 8, Savannah, 6 and Fin, 3.
But the one race Cuttitta still runs every year despite the distance is the Mid Mountain Marathon, where he placed this year 13th overall, third in the 35-39 age group and had a welcome surprise waiting for him with a quarter-mile left in the run.
“That was so cool seeing them near the end,” Cuttitta said of seeing his wife and three kids awaiting him. “Usually they’re waiting at the finish but this time they were at least a quarter mile up the trail and all the kids ran the very end with me. … That was really fun and cool, although they tell me they’re faster than I am because they think I’m slow.”
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It wasn’t easy, but the Miners dispatched Region 8 rival Salem Hills in five sets on Wednesday, earning momentum heading into the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs.