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Coaching veteran Kennedy takes experience to Latrobe soccer team

| Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 4:09 p.m.

Just a few months ago, Tom Kennedy remarked to his wife that for the first time in more than 30 years he wasn't coaching a soccer team.

The break from the game was short lived.

After stepping down as coach at Westmoreland County Community College, Kennedy accepted the vacant position as boys coach at Latrobe.

Along with his three seasons at WCCC, Kennedy brings 18 years of WPIAL coaching experience from Greensburg Central Catholic. In his 15 years as boys coach, Kennedy compiled an overall record of 231-85-7 and 159-28-5 in section play. He was named Section 1-A coach of the year 11 times, won 10 section titles, three WPIAL championships and was state runner-up twice.

“Years ago I used to say at (Greensburg Central Catholic) that if I was ever going to go anywhere else, it would be Latrobe,” he said. “All I could come up with was why not?”

A Latrobe resident, Kennedy has been coaching local soccer programs since 1983, including the Latrobe Recreation League and the Loyalhanna Soccer Club.

Kennedy resigned from Westmoreland County Community College just before Christmas. The traveling and other requirements of the college level started to take some of the enjoyment out of coaching, he said.

“Not that I didn't like it, but my grandkids are getting into sports, and at a junior college, we still go away on long bus trips,” Kennedy said. “But on weekends, I was missing birthday parties, and you only get so many birthday parties with grandkids.”

He wasn't aware of the opening at Latrobe when he resigned and had no intentions of looking for other coaching positions.

“I had resigned myself to the fact that I was just going to coach at Loyalhanna,” Kennedy said. “It would be my swan song, so to speak.

“There are some very nice players at Latrobe, and I've already started talking to them and just trying to motivate them saying, ‘I didn't come over here just to continue to coach. I came over here because I saw that you guys can be successful.' ”

Although Kennedy enjoyed plenty of success in his first stint in the WPIAL, it wasn't until his fifth year that he won his first section title.

He's hoping that level of winning might come more quickly at Latrobe.

“The goals are lofty, but the expectations are realistic,” Kennedy said. “I'm not going in there and saying, ‘OK guys, I want us to win a game.' I'm going in there like I did every year at (Greensburg Central Catholic) saying, ‘Let's go to (the state championship at) Hershey.'

“Now is that going to happen? Maybe it's a perfect storm where everything is going to roll over.”

Kennedy said Latrobe most likely would be the last stop on his coaching journey, although he doesn't yet know how long that stop will be.

“I don't like to wear out my welcome,” he said. “If this team can be as successful as my past teams, then that would behoove me to stay a little bit longer. But I'm probably not going to put another 15 (years) in. Let's put it like that.”

Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at ghorvath@tribweb.com.

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