SYCAMORE TWP. – Tom Kennedy’s four sons will be on hand May 9 to watch as the Moeller High School lacrosse team pays tribute to their father – the father of Crusader lacrosse – in “Play for TK Day” May 9.
Kennedy, who died in January, will be the focal point as the boys take on Columbus DeSales at the Gerry Faust Athletic Complex.
He served as school’s head coach twice after starting the program. His older sons came home one day and announced to their mother Father Tedesco had found a lacrosse coach. With a leap of faith, Kennedy began Crusaders’ program in 1987-88.
With an overall record of 139-57 at Moeller, he coached nationally-ranked squads in 1992 and 1993 and was elected to the Ohio Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2001. His four sons (Tom Jr. ’88, Matt ’90, Jim ’93 and Pat ’97) all played for Moeller and moved on to Division I lacrosse.
“We had a target on our backs all year long after winning the 1992 Ohio championship,” Jim Kennedy recalled. “My dad sought me out in the middle of the the field and we embraced and gave each other a big hug. My dad kept saying. ‘We did it!'”
Since arriving at Moeller last year, current head coach Sean McGinnis has researched the school’s history and compares Kennedy to the gridiron legend, Faust.
“That’s what Tom Kennedy means to the lacrosse program,” McGinnis said. “He started the program at Moeller and started a lot of lacrosse locally. He’s coached a lot of All-Americans and was a two-time, back-to-back state champion. We owe a lot to his legacy. We put on the back of our shirts this year, ‘Protect the Legacy.'”
Kennedy started with one team and several players who had never picked up a stick. In his fifth season, Moeller was a state champion. Now, the program has a varsity and two JV teams totaling 65 players.
“I remember not knowing what to expect since just about everyone on our team had never played before,” oldest son Tom Kennedy Jr. said. “I remember my Dad did not have this worry.”
Added youngest son, Pat, “The Moeller program always focused on fundamentals, toughness and discipline. Those traits were stressed by our dad from the first practice all the way through his last day coaching in 2008.”
As with all Moeller sports, they shy away from no one. They have already faced the state’s No. 1 team in St. Xavier and the No. 5 team in Worthington Kilbourne. Early on, they took on Louisville Trinity and Louisville St. Xavier. They also went to Indiana to tangle with top programs in Carmel and Culver Academy.
After starting with wins against Trinity and Seven Hills, Moeller lost five straight before defeating Kiski Prep of Pennsylvania and Division II power Mariemont.
“This is like a transition year,” McGinnis said. “We’re trying to put a lot of our systems and philosophies in. Game by game, the kids are picking up.”
The defense has held Moeller in many games led by seniors Jack Toomb and Grant Clark and goalie Mitch Nietupski. Seniors Nick Cinquina and Eric Reynolds and sophomore Cory Lockwood have led the scoring.
Shirts reading “Play for TK” will be available May 9. The game with DeSales begins at 3 p.m..