Teacher and coach Jay Puffpaff makes his mark on SLHS


Keegan Honig

Mr. Puffpaff helps Art 1 student Logan Koutz with his assingment.

Keegan Honig, Editor

There’s a secluded classroom in the upstairs of St. Louis High School where runners and art students find themselves, and it belongs to teacher and coach Jay Puffpaff. Puffpaff coaches cross country and boys’ track for the Sharks, and he teaches Art 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Art student Logan Koutz said, “Mr. Puffpaff has given me the opportunity to become a great art student by pushing me to be artistic.”

Puffpaff grew up just down the road in Ithaca, Michigan. As a youth, he loved to compete in athletics, as he states, “I loved to compete, so I participated in numerous sports.”

After high school, Puffpaff attended Albion College to study visual arts and to run cross country and track. He then finished his teaching certification and NCAA eligibility by running at Central Michigan University. 

He shared, “After finishing my teaching certification, I had the opportunity to teach the rest of that school year at St. Clair High School. During that summer, the opportunity to move back home and teach in St. Louis presented itself, and I jumped on it.”

Puffpaff was hired as the head coach for boys’ track in 2010 and was an assistant coach for cross country until 2012 when he became head coach. As head coach, he has coached a total of nine all-state cross country runners. He has also coached six state-qualifying teams including the boys’ and girls’ teams this past season. He has also coached six individual all-state track athletes and two all-state relay teams, including 3200-meter state champion Evan Goodell and runner-up Raquel Serna in the 3200, 1600, and in cross country. Additionally, Puffpaff coached Jacob Bergey who finished second in the 100-meter and Brayden Border who was runner-up in the 3200.

Cross country athlete Rylee Koutz shared, “Mr. Puffpaff has always encouraged the team to reach their fullest potential, and this year is a prime example of how he has done that.” 

Puffpaff also makes a tremendous impact in the classroom. He has many students come through the art program, and he leaves an impact on all of them. He shared, “I love getting the opportunity to teach students to be creative and to help spark joy and enjoyment in the creative process.”

Art student Aubrey Smith said, “Mr. Puffpaff has helped me to flourish in the art world. He’s helped to have an eye for detail.”

Family is the most important thing in Puffpaff’s life. He has a wife and two boys, and he shared, “My wife and kids have had the biggest impact on my life as they always support me and challenge me to be the best version of myself.”

Whether you call him Coach Puffpaff or Mr. Puffpaff, he has been a positive influence on countless students and athletes alike. He is known around the school for his positive attitude and for being an encouraging and caring person. 

He shared, “I love my students and athletes. Nothing is more rewarding than having the opportunity to make a positive impact in someone’s life. It is an opportunity that I do not take for granted.”