Kennedy follows passion for coaching
When Kellie Kennedy graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1990, she had a basketball in one hand and a business administration degree in the other. She could only choose one.
For four years, Kennedy played basketball for the Tar Heels while studying business at UNC. She excelled in the classroom and her play on the court earned her Most Improved Player Honors in 1988, Basketball Senior Award and Scholar-Athlete in 1990.
However, as graduation approached, Kennedy was faced with two options: continuing her career in what she loved, basketball, or utilizing the education she received to pursue a career in the business field.
Kennedy decided to pursue both. She accepted an assistant coaching position at the University of North Carolina Wilmington while attending graduate school there.
A few weeks after accepting the position, though, Kennedy received a phone call. On the other end was an assistant coach from UNC with a tempting opportunity.
"I had taken the job at Wilmington as a grad assistant there and a week or two later, my assistant coach from North Carolina called me and said there was an opportunity to play basketball in Europe," she said.
"I still kind of had the bug and that's hard to get rid of, but I had already made that commitment to Wilmington ... I felt very loyal to her as a result of that so it wasn't as difficult of a decision because I had given her my word."
Despite her desire to play basketball, Kennedy remained an assistant coach at Wilmington until she graduated. Still unsure about her future, she was given her first head-coaching job at National Collegiat Athletic AssociaationDivision III Hollins College three years later.
"When I graduated from grad school, I really didn't know if basketball was something I wanted to do or not," she said. "I got the head-coaching job at an all girls school at Hollins.
It was a tough job but I loved it and just kept coaching."
After a two-year stint at Hollins, Kennedy transferred to Tulane University in New Orleans where she coached point and shooting guards, served as recruiting coordinator, oversaw scheduling and scouted opponents.
During her tenure at Tulane, Kennedy said she experienced one of her most memorable moments in her career as a coach, the NCAA tournament.
"Going to the NCAA tournament was very exciting and the hoopla surrounding that is amazing," Kennedy said.
In 2005 though, everything changed for Kennedy. After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Kennedy said she developed a new perspective on her life. The amount of travel she did for Tulane led her to tire.
"After the storm, I left coaching and thought that maybe I wanted to do something else for awhile because I was a little burned out. …
And so I decided to open my own business. I did that for a couple of years but I just really didn't like it that much," she said, referring to the restaurant on Oak Street she opened and then sold.
Jobless, she then left Tulane and decided not to return, so she began to search for anything available. Meanwhile, Loyola's women's basketball coach had recently resigned.
Kennedy was named head coach on July 7, 2008.
Reflecting on her path, Kennedy said, "I think all the things you do in your life lead you to the next thing and make you who you are. I could have been in a totally different place than I am right now, but I'm glad and happy to be here ...
There's no doubt in mind now what I need to do for the rest of my life. This is the place I need to be."
Craig Malveaux can be reached at
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