With two minutes left in our rivalry game at Rockford, Sr. Quarterback Isaac Van Dyke plowed in for a go-ahead touchdown. Only a few feet away, new Athletic Director Bill Kennedy reacted with a dramatic fist pump and a jump of enthusiasm; we were down early in the game and this touchdown led to our huge win.
When former Athletic Director Pat Marsman accepted a job as an athletic director at Northview, West Ottawa faced a difficult decision of who would replace him.
West Ottawa is very excited by the addition of Kennedy. He used to work at Forest Hills as an athletic director and prior to that, he was a teacher and a coach.
He has always loved sports. In high school, he took part in football, basketball, and track. Kennedy loves watching kids compete in sports and participate in what they love on and off the field. This was a major factor in him becoming an athletic director.
Kennedy was an intern with the Pittsburgh Penguins in college and worked with professional baseball organization for four years. He got to travel with teams in Maryland, Oregon, and in Michigan.
But his goal here at WO is not only to help the athletic program but to help and watch kids succeed in school. He believes in sports and success on the field, but he believes in the student’s academic success more.
Kennedy loves the people he is getting to know here at WO. “The thing that has really jumped out to me in my first couple of weeks being here is how tight the community is.” Being a West Ottawa Panther is something that many graduates are proud of, and alumni often come to games to support the current student-athletes.
Kennedy has already helped so many students on and off the field, including a student who was a Somali refugee. The student could not understand English and came to Forest Hills as a freshman, so Kennedy would go to the elementary schools to get him books so he could learn how to read.
With the encouragement from Kennedy, the student participated in track and field. The student thrived in school and track and later got accepted into Michigan State with a full ride for track and field. Kennedy said, “It was all through his hard work. Those are the things I think are awesome It’s just through pure will and determination to get to where they wanted to be.” Kennedy is here for the students and is really showing that already.
On Thursday, August 30, WO varsity football beat Forest Hills 42-41. Kennedy said, “It was pretty awesome to be back at Forest Hills on Thursday; it was definitely very rewarding to go back there and be on the sideline and see our team beat Forest Hills.” Kennedy went to college to play football and shares what he loves about the sport, “The thing I love about football is it takes 11 people all doing their job on a play to make it successful. If one of the 11 doesn’t do their job then we can lose the ball; it takes teamwork to win.”
Kennedy believes in teamwork and that when any student participates in a sport, they learn what it means to be part of a team, and how to manage their time. Students become more confident when wearing their jerseys in the school. There are great things to come for Panther Athletics under the leadership of Mr. Kennedy.