Covenant Classical School headmaster and athletic director Greg Hardie was in a pinch when he talked with Justin Kuralt in October.
The boys varsity basketball team desperately needed a head coach, and the season was only a month away.
Kuralt said he would take the job, as long as his first priority could be coaching his other high school team, the Concord High junior varsity boys. With Kuralt's coaching background, and his connection to the school through his twin fifth-grade daughters, Hardie still thought it was a perfect fit.
Sometimes his basketball day starts at 5:30 a.m., and on occasion Kuralt has to be creative with his daily agenda. But he and Hardie agree the relationship is working out so far.
Through five games, Covenant Classical was sporting a 3-2 record and the Concord JV won its first two games.
A 1991 graduate of UNCChapel Hill, Kuralt was a team manager for four years for coach Dean Smith's Tar Heels. Upon his graduation, Kuralt said, Smith helped him pursue his dream of becoming a basketball coach.
For five years Kuralt was a college assistant, with stops at Davidson (1991-92), Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College (1992-93) and UNCAsheville (1993-96).
Kuralt left coaching for a time, entering the health care field, where he's been ever since. But in 2003, he hooked up with the Cabarrus Stars AAU program. He entered scholastic coaching in 2006 at Kannapolis A.L. Brown, where he worked a season as the junior varsity coach and one as the varsity assistant.
Before the 2008-09 school year, Kuralt moved to coach cross county at Concord Middle School, leading the seventh- and eighth-grade teams in separate seasons. He also sat on coach Scott Brewer's bench for Concord High varsity games.
Kuralt slid up to the junior varsity team when the position became open after last season. He will continue as Brewers' game-time assistant.
After the start of this school year, Covenant varsity coach Ken Jewell decided to concentrate on the Warriors' middle school program, leaving a vacancy at the top. In early October, school office manager Marcia Kuhn recommended Kuralt to Hardie.
Kuralt's daughters, Alex and Allie, attend Covenant, and Alex plays for the girls' middle-school team. He thought he would at least listen to Hardie's proposal.
Kuralt told Hardie he would coach but that Hardie would need to find a replacement for the nine games he couldn't attend because of conflicts with Concord's schedule. Hardie told Kuralt he would be happy to fill in when needed.
"I remember contacting Ken and saying 'This might work,'" Hardie said. "In a pinch, I don't think we could have done any better."
With gym space at a premium for five different Covenant teams, Kuralt and Hardie, whose son Garrison plays on the team, agreed the team could practice at 5:30 a.m. Now that games have begun, the early-morning practices are twice a week.
On those early-bird days, Kuralt finishes practice at 7, takes his daughters to school at 7:30 and reports to work at 8. To accommodate his work schedule, Brewer allows the JV team to practice later time, so Kuralt's day sometimes extends to 8 p.m.
Kuralt has installed offenses and defenses like those used at Concord. But out of respect for the Spiders' program, he said, he has changed the terminology. He admits he occasionally gets tongue-tied, quickly catching himself using the Concord terms at a Covenant practice.
This season, if Concord's varsity advances at least as far as it did last year (the regional finals), Kuralt's teams could play at least 79 games - almost an entire NBA season.
Kuralt admits coaching at different schools in the same season may be a one-time effort. But for now, he sees the rewards above the rigorous schedule.
"There's a chance to be a part of three different conference championships at three different levels."