Twice in the last week of the high school soccer season, Sean Kennedy sat dejectedly on the Blue Springs’ bench after a Wildcat loss.

Twice in the last week of the high school soccer season, Sean Kennedy sat dejectedly on the Blue Springs’ bench after a Wildcat loss.

 First was the 1-0 double overtime loss the Wildcats suffered against rival Blue Springs South on Senior Night in late October. Kennedy, a senior defender, tore an ACL early in the second half and missed the rest of that contest as well as the Class 3 District 14 tournament at Raytown.

Understandably, Kennedy was upset about being injured in the last regular season home game of his high school career. Days later, Kennedy again sat dejectedly on the Wildcats sideline, this time after a 1-0 last-second loss in overtime to eventual district champion Lee’s Summit North.

Kennedy never stepped on the field that day against the Broncos, but he was the last man left when the stadium emptied and the lights went off at Ted Chittwood Stadium. For Kennedy, the loss against the Broncos ended an era for him and his family.

After a run of at least 18 years with a Kennedy playing soccer for the Wildcats, Sean Kennedy, the youngest of Patrick and Cindy Kennedy’s seven children (four boys, three girls), became the last to suit up for the Blue Springs soccer program.

Stephen, 32, Isaac, 30, Sarah, 28, Joshua, 26, Shauna, 23, and Krystal, 21, all proceeded Sean, 18, as Wildcats.

“I was actually the ball boy for all my brothers and sisters when they played,” Sean Kennedy said. “Not just my brothers, but for all of them. It was fun. That was one of the cool things I got to do. I got to watch my brothers and sisters play – I got to leave school early even. When they went to state, I got to go. I got to see my brother Isaac win state back in 1996.”

Blue Springs girls soccer coach Doug McLagan coached every Kennedy except Sean, who was a 4-year-old ball boy on that Wildcats state championship boys team in 1996. Sarah was the team’s manager.

McLagan said he has nothing but good memories of the Kennedy clan.

“They’re just tremendous, tremendous kids and that all starts with the mom and dad,” McLagan said. “They’re well-mannered, respectful and they’ll do anything for you, so coaching them was so easy. If you ask to them to do something, they just do it. They’re a fantastic family.”

THE TIE THAT BINDS

On Sept. 22, Sean made his first start as a goalkeeper for the Wildcats since his freshman season. Starter Nick Waite was out with a quad injury and the Wildcats needed Sean to step in and hold down the fort. The only problem was the Wildcats’ opponent that evening – Park Hill – came into the game as the No. 1-ranked Class 3 team in the state.

Sean and the Wildcats held a 1-0 lead up until the 77th minute, eventually losing 2-1 in overtime .

“When Nick went down with his quad injury, both Nick and (fellow senior) Cory (Braden) and all my brothers and sisters were behind me, cheering me on, telling me I could do it,” Sean said. “I won’t ever forget what Nick said. He said ‘This is your time Kennedy, you got this.’

“Cody and my family reiterated this and it gave me the confidence to go out and play against the No. 1 team in the state. Heck, I held them scoreless for 77 minutes. My team stepped it up and performed and I’ll always have the team and my brothers and sisters to thank for that.”

EMPTY NESTERS

Patrick and Cindy Kennedy are a few months away from emptying the house. Stephen is a helicopter pilot and Captain in the United States Army; Isaac is a resident doctor at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County in California; Sarah is stationed in Italy where her husband is an F-16 pilot; Joshua is a correctional officer in Louisiana; Shauna is on a church mission in Panama; and Krystal is a junior at the University of Utah.

After graduation, Sean plans on attending either Utah or Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.

“Next year we will be by ourselves for the first time in over 32 years,” Patrick said. “Will we go to the games – maybe for some of our friends’ children who will be sophomores – or we may go see our grandchildren play.

“This game, this program, created an opportunity for my children to remain bonded together. Each one wanted to know how the current child was doing. In the last alumni game my children came to, they were all there, and it seemed that they made up half of each side. That’s a lot of players and a long tradition. We have been blessed with good kids and a great program.”

Added Sean: “They’ve had kids at home for the last 33 years. I’m actually confused of what they are going to be doing. Are they going to throw parties? Travel more? Or are they just gonna chill and not do anything? I don’t know.”

MORE THAN JUST

AN ATHLETE

Sean is a theater actor. He plans to either major in musical theater performance or sports business management in college. He has had lead roles in musicals at Blue Springs as well as for The Bar Players, a theater group in Mission, Kan.

On Monday, Sean will audition for the lead role in Blue Springs’ latest musical, “Bye Bye Birdie.”

“I’ve never really taken a dance class itself,” Sean said, “but I’ve always been a good singer and a good actor. That’s another thing I get that from my brothers and sisters. All of us can sing and all of us can act. Coming from a big family, we always messed around. I picked it all up from my brothers and sisters. Not only soccer, but acting and singing and a passion for both.”

THE END OF THE ROAD

Sean had surgery Nov. 11 on his torn left ACL. For an athlete the injury can be a detriment. For an accomplished theater actor who acts, dances and sings, the injury could be disheartening. Not for Sean Kennedy. Nothing is getting Sean down these days, not even going over in his head the last two games of his high school career.

“I kind of felt a lot of pressure to go out there and perform and try and beat my brothers and sisters,” Kennedy said of his senior season. “I know we lost in districts, but you always have that dream of winning state, and I wanted to do that so bad and prove to my bothers and sisters like, ‘Hey look, I can win a state title, too.’

“My family has won 15 district titles, we’ve been to state five times. We ended up finishing first, second, third, fourth and second again. A couple of us were captains.”

Although the end of the road has come for the Kennedy family at Blue Springs, 18 years of history will not be easily replaced.

“My thoughts on the end of this tradition?” Patrick Kennedy said. “My first thought is ‘finally we managed to get our last child through school and on to college.’ But with regards to the tradition, well it is tough and sad – for over 18 years in the fall or spring, we have been to games two and sometimes three times a week, in the rain, wind, snow.

“My wife was there for each one. I was there only for my child’s senior year because of my job. I remember when Blue Springs won the first state soccer title when Isaac was playing. It was very, very cold and we won on a corner kick. It was the first state title for a school other than St. Louis. We have seen great things from the program and from our kids.”