Mahomet Citizen sports writer

A Mahomet-Seymour High School graduate and former Bulldog soccer player has been named the new varsity boys’ soccer coach.

Andrew Kennedy, a 2006 M-S alum who played four years of soccer for the Bulldogs, will take over the top spot on the sidelines for the 2014-2015 season.

Kennedy replaces John Moore, who guided by the M-S varsity soccer program for the past four seasons.

As a player, Kennedy was a member of the M-S junior varsity as a freshman and sophomore and then spent his final two seasons on the varsity squad.

For the past four years, he has been a member of the Bulldog coaching staff, the last three seasons as the junior varsity coach.

Making the move from the junior varsity to varsity is a step that Kennedy is looking forward to taking.

While acknowledging that there will be a "big difference" between coaching at the junior varsity and varsity levels, Kennedy believes he can hit the ground running, primarily because he has coached many of the same players who will make up the 2014 varsity roster.

"I know the varsity game is a much more intense, physical game. I’ve seen it up close, I just haven’t coached it outright," he said. "In practice I’ll be handling a majority of the junior and senior players, and this will present a new challenge as well. There is a different spirit in a kid when they are upperclassmen as opposed to underclassmen."

While the varsity program has been more than competitive the past few years, it is still finding its way and looking for its first breakthrough season that will establish Bulldog soccer as one of the top teams in the area.

In order to make that happen, Kennedy said the high school players must first put team goals ahead of individual statistics.

"It’s very important that these guys come together to achieve common goals, not individual ones. If the players play together as one, they will see individual success, but the team must come first," Kennedy said. "Our motivation, our drive, our passion for this season needs to be the success of each other rather than individual accomplishment.

Kennedy said another primary goal for the 2014 season and beyond is developing a "culture of responsibility." By that, he believes that players need to learn how to accept responsibility, on and off the field, and focus on playing the game of soccer the way it’s supposed to be played.

"Nobody is perfect, and everyone, including the coaches and the players, need to accept this reality. It’s important that we listen to one another as opposed to explaining why itis someone else’s fault," he said.

"The team shouldn’t be looking to point out faults and players shouldn’t be preparing a list of excuses of why things didn’t work out the way they wanted. We just need to own our actions and move forward, be it practice, a game, or other situations."

Kennedy said the players have worked hard over the summer, on their own and at various camps, and believes better days are ahead.

"I’m very excited with the players that have been training this summer and the dedication they’ve put forth even when they weren’t sure who would be coaching them," he said. "The effort the kids give is inspiring and it makes me want the most for them."

Kennedy will make his varsity head coaching debut when the Bulldogs host the season opener on August 26 against Metamora.

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