Morris Sussex Sports covers 40 schools’ sports teams that consists of about 14,000 athletes in Morris, Sussex and parts of Warren counties. Out of those 14,000 athletes, Morris Sussex Sports and Parisi Speed School honor just one athlete who does something special each week with the Parisi Speed School Player of the Week. Go to Parisi Speed School to raise your game and become faster, bigger and stronger. Mention “Morris Sussex Sports” and receive a FREE Speed Pass to one of their world class training sessions.
During this past week of the spring season there were a ton of fantastic performances in Morris-Sussex between lacrosse, softball, baseball, track and other sports. But the athlete we felt deserved the Parisi Speed School Player of the Week the most was West Morris Central baseball player Kevin Kennedy. Kennedy has been absolutely ridiculous at the plate this season hitting for an amazing .593 average, batting in 20 base runners and hitting three dingers. Kennedy’s prowess at the plate has the Wolfpack on a 4-game win streak and 9-1 record overall.
We caught up with the senior sensation to talk about his stellar season so far, who his role model is and what frustrates his coach the most.
Morris Sussex Sports: Right now you are one of the top batters in the state in most hitting statistics. What is making your bat smoking hot this season?
Kevin Kennedy: Being put in great hitting situations certainly makes my job much easier. My teammates have been constantly getting on base and putting pressure on opposing pitchers. That’s truly all I could ask for as a hitter.
MSS: Is there a certain pitch you love to hit more than others?
KK: If I told you I don’t think they would throw it to me anymore (laughs). So I’ll just say change-ups low and away are my favorite pitch.
MSS: Did you anticipate the Wolfpack would have as good as a season as they are having?
KK: I knew we definitely had the potential. We put nine weapons out on the field every inning with even more in our artillery. So I was confident that we would find success early and often.
MSS: What is it about your school that produces such hard nosed athletes?
KK: It’s the environment we all grew up in. No “daddy ball”, no free wins, no easy at-bats, and no days off. Also, our coach is by far the best we’ve had in a very long time. He pushes us to never be satisfied with yesterday’s results, and to always improve for tomorrow’s challenges.
MSS: What was your “Welcome to varsity sports” moment?
KK: Finishing my sophomore year with only 6 hits and an 0.188 batting average welcomed me to varsity sports. I knew that things needed to change if I wanted any chance at success.
MSS: What are your favorite athletic moments you look back on in your high school career?
KK: Honestly, it’s our run-out music in the first inning. It gives me chills every time I hear it come on, and motivates me to leave everything out on the field with my teammates. It is something I will carry with me far beyond my playing days.
MSS: Who is the best athlete you faced during your high school career?
KK: I have the luxury of not facing Connor Staine, but I would probably say Gordon Graceffo from Cranford. The way he elevated his team to the next level was something you don’t see often, and that’s the talent elite players are made of.
MSS: Who is your role model?
KK: My parents. Neither of them have been given a single thing in their lives and they somehow manage to always be there for me and my siblings. They are absolute work horses and I’m fortunate enough to have some of their work ethic rubbed off on me. They truly are the greatest parents a kid could ask for.
MSS: Do you have any pre-game rituals?
KK: Before every game I go to this place called school for about six hours. It’s not my favorite but I guess it’s just kind of a habit at this point.
MSS: Do you have hidden talents outside of athletics?
KK: I enjoy comedy and like to make people laugh. I consider myself an amateur comedian and mimic some of my favorite stand-up performers.
MSS: What’s your favorite movie?
KK: Wolf of Wall Street. Although it paints Wall Street in a semi-blemished light, business is something I am extremely passionate about. I also enjoy the cinematography of the movie and Scorsese’s directing ability. It’s an instant classic.
KK: “God Bless the U.S.A” by Lee Greenwood. It always reminds me of what it truly means to be a patriot, and how fortunate I am to live in such an amazing country.
MSS: Who on your team loosens up the vibe with humor?
KK: Braden Willsey is easily the funniest kid on the team. No matter the situation, he always manages to put a smile on my face or make me laugh. It’s actually freaky how funny he is.
MSS: Who is the biggest diva?
KK: Nick “Breezy” Calabrese. I mean, I guess it’s a Texas thing but we all love him no matter if he’s up or down that day.
MSS: Who is the unsung hero?
KK: Easily Jackson Yeatts. From the outside, people undervalue him as our number 2 pitcher. But, he has a bulldog mentality and ALWAYS finds a way to compete. Talent wise, he is extremely underrated and he is part of the reason why we’re playing the way we are right now.
MSS: Who is the most superstitious?
KK: Aidan Healy. Pretty sure the kid still puts spoons under his pillow in hopes for a snow day. But, he always does the same routine before every game (stretching, throwing, etc.) and it has proved to work very well for him these past few years.
MSS: Who is constantly busting chops?
KK: Again, Braden Willsey. Always finds a way to make bad times good, but also finds a way to make easy things EXTREMELY difficult. But he’s another guy that helps me stay grounded and within myself every game.
MSS: What frustrates Coach Reindel the most?
KK: Probably wearing jewelry during games. By the end of each game, our dugout looks like a Zales showroom. Umpires don’t seem to like it either.
MSS: What legacy do you want to leave at WMC?
KK: I want to show others that it’s okay to be passionate. In whatever you do, if you do it with passion and compete, the reward is much greater. I don’t care about a statistical legacy or an award. I just want to be a catalyst for others, and help them find something they truly love to do.
MSS: Finish this sentence. The 2019 baseball season will be a success if ____________________.
KK: we bring home the first ever state title to Long Valley.
MSS: Congrats Kevin on such a great year so far and best of luck to you and your teammates the rest of the way!