Story by Mike Moore, JTV Sports
JACKSON — The first message came from his wife, a little heads up that the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association (MAHA) was trying to reach him.
“I was in a Jackson hockey board meeting, when Mandy let me know MAHA would be calling me, and that I didn’t want to miss it,” Chad Kennedy said with a laugh. “My first thought was, ‘what did we do now?’”
Moments later Kennedy said the proudest moment of his 24-plus years in coaching hockey began to unfold.
“Honestly, I thought they were joking,” Kennedy said of MAHA notifying him he had been named the 2015 MAHA Coach of the Year.
This was no joke, though, and after guiding Polly’s Fighting Parrots to a 48-4 overall record and a second place finish at the state finals in the Bantom age group, Kennedy had certainly earned an award that goes to just one of more than 2,000 possible candidates.
“It was probably the proudest I’ve ever been in hockey,” Kennedy said. He’s been coaching for more than 24 years, and spent the past 10 years working with a good majority of the group that was on this year’s team.
Kennedy accepted the Coach of the Year award July 11 at the MAHA summer conference.
Kennedy was nominated for the award roughly a month ago, and following his nomination, a collection of letters, written by his players parents, was sent to the selection committee.
“I was given those letters, and truthfully, that meant more to me than anything,” Kennedy explained.
The letters may not have earned him Coach of the Year, but certainly helped.
His body of work speaks for itself, though.
Still, Kennedy deflected much of the attention, crediting his team, his fellow coaches and especially Mandy.
“My wife deserves this more than I do,” he said. “She’s the manager, does all the scheduling and organizing. She does all the hard work while I get to do the fun stuff on the ice with the kids.”
The nomination and subsequent award for Kennedy meant even more considering he was able to coach two of his sons — Bear and Aaron — this season.
The Clark Lake resident, who’s worked with the Jackson Area Hockey Association for more than 10 years, is the first from Jackson to ever win the award.
“I’ve had a few people ask me about an encore,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t think there’s anyone winning these back to back.”