Published on April 15th, 2018 | by Staples Soccer2
Shane Kennedy ’72: From Star Keeper To Great Coach
Shane Kennedy ’72 had a storied career at Staples. After joining the team as a goalkeeper midway through his senior year — basketball had been his main sport — the talented athlete led the Wreckers to FCIAC and state championships. He went on to Babson College — where he set an NCAA record for career shutouts. He was then drafted by the NASL’s New York Cosmos.
Kennedy — now a sculptor in the San Francisco Bay Area — has made a name for himself as girls coach at Mt. Tamalpais High School. He also has a private coaching business, called Dominate the Box, and has worked with several Staples keepers on trips back east.
Recently the Marin Independent Journal profiled Kennedy. Here’s that story:
Over the course of this decade, Tam High has piled up more points than any other girls soccer program in the MCAL. The Red-tailed Hawks have enjoyed a prolonged period of success that has netted them three league titles, three MCAL tournament titles and a pair of North Coast Section titles in that span — including back-to-back triple crowns in 2014-15.
While the players have come and gone over the years, the one constant has been coach Shane Kennedy, a former goalkeeper who has helped establish a defense- first, never-say-die attitude that has made Tam one of the toughest teams in the league to score against.
“One of the things that makes him special is his ability to relate to the players and he does such a great job getting them to compete and give everything they can for one another,” Branson coach Tyler Gottschalk said. “His teams are always full of belief, regardless of the situation.”
Kennedy, who was an assistant coach for several years before taking over the program from Dustin Nygaard in 2011, has compiled a 137-39-31 record at Tam.
“(Kennedy) was there on the girls side of things before I even took over,” said Nygaard, who coaches the boys golf team at Tam. “He was an assistant coach with (Brandon Murphy)… Shane had helped me that year with the boys as an assistant and goalie coach. Really, more than anything else, Shane has been a mentor of mine and a guy I have the utmost respect for; a guy I leaned on for advice in my first couple of years coaching.”
Tam’s recent success has translated into accolades for both Kennedy and the program. Kennedy was named a California Interscholastic Federation Model Coach award winner in 2017 and was recently named the CIF girls soccer Coach of the Year.
“It felt great, it’s nice,” Kennedy said of the honors. “The one thing you want to do is build a program and some type of legacy… it’s just nice to build something with parents and coaches and the administration and be acknowledged for it. It’s a very rewarding thing.
“It’s just more good things happening for Tam soccer. We’ve had a really nice run and I’m getting great kids.”
Under Kennedy’s stewardship, the Red-tailed Hawks have been known as a well organized team that’s extremely tough to break down defensively.
“I would say committed and competitive,” Kennedy said. “Obviously you’re going to get certain kids than can do certain things each year. Right now we’re playing a possession style, a more technical style than we’ve played in some years. Other years we haven’t been as technically talented and we’ve stuck in. We played whistle to whistle and we want to feel good about ourselves, win or lose, that we put in our best effort.”Perhaps the defining game of Kennedy’s time at Tam so far came in this season’s MCAL championship game against Branson. Both teams entered the game having conceded goals just once in 14 league games but Branson took a 2-0 lead on back-to-back goals early in the second half, leaving the Red-tailed Hawks to score more goals against Branson in less than a half than the Bulls had conceded the entire season.
“They were down 2-0 in the second half to a team that doesn’t give up goals and there wasn’t one second that team didn’t believe it could get it done,” Gottschalk said.
Emlen Janetos pulled Tam within 2-1 and the Red-tailed Hawks eventually came all the way back and pulled out a victory on penalty kicks.
“Playing for Shane is always exciting,” said Janetos, a four-year varsity player for Tam. “He definitely tries to get the most out of his players. He expects a lot from you but also puts so much into every team he coaches that playing for him becomes such a joy.”
Kennedy has coached soccer at Tam, Marin FC and Dominican University in addition to his own business, dominatethebox, which specializes in goalie training.
Back in his playing days, Kennedy was a record-setting goalie himself. He helped Staples High (Westport, Conn.) to four consecutive state titles in the midst of a stretch that saw Staples win six consecutive crowns.
Kennedy went to Babson College (D-III) in Massachusetts and was the starting keeper there from 1973 until 1976. The Beavers won their first national championship during Kennedy’s junior year, which saw him post 10 consecutive shutouts — a school record that still stands. Kennedy compiled a 44-7-3 record at Babson and set a then-NCAA D-III record for career shutouts (41).
Kennedy was drafted by the New York Cosmos in 1977 and was on the reserve squad at a time when the team’s roster included Brazilian legend Pele and German legend Franz Beckenbauer.
“I was drafted by them and I was on their reserve team but we trained with (the first-team players) all the time, so that was kind of fun,” Kennedy said.