Firebirds’ Kennedy earns East-West nod

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Family plays a big role in Southern Nash High athletics and Firebirds varsity basketball coach Robbie Kennedy kept that in mind after learning of he had attained a career achievement Saturday.

Kennedy, who will be in his 16th season as Firebirds head coach this school year, was named East boys basketball head coach for the North Carolina Coaches Association’s 71st annual East-West All-Star Game next summer in Greensboro.

“I just feel lucky,” Kennedy said. “It’s an honor. There’s a lot of people who have done it that I know. It’s something good for the guys who have played for me and the guys who I’ve coached with.”

Kennedy, entering his 21st year at Southern Nash and his 14th year as its athletic director, is the third coach from Southern Nash to be selected for All-Star duty. Football coach Brian Foster has been there twice, as head coach in 2014 and as an assistant coach in 2009. Football coach Ray Davis (1998) and girls basketball coach Rosalie Ellis Bardin (1984), who later became the Southern Nash principal, also coached East teams.

Kennedy, who has been a football assistant coach for the past 20 years and is the Firebirds current defensive coordinator, said that he will probably lean on Foster for advice.

“I think he did a really good job with football. It’s a little bit different but,” Kennedy said.

Earl Sadler of Pamlico will be Kennedy’s assistant coach for the East while East Forsyth’s Mike Muse is the West head coach and Scott Harrill of Cherryville is the West assistant.

Kennedy said he’s already gotten started on looking at potential players for the all-star game, which will be played in the Greensboro Coliseum next July.

“I’ve talked to some small schools in the 1-A East to kind of keep their eyes open for me and I’ve kind of looked over some of the AAU stuff with the people I follow,” he said. “You know, basketball’s hard because you really don’t want pick a lot of D-I guys who end up going straight to college. So you’re trying to pick the best 10 guys.”

Kennedy is also excited to be representing for Southern Nash, which has never had a boys basketball player in the East-West All-Star Game.

“We’ve had two girls (basketball players), a boys soccer player and a bunch of football guys but we’ve never had a boys basketball player,” Kennedy said. “So, I kind of feel like I’m representing all the guys who played for me and that’s a pretty big deal, representing all of them.”

Kennedy pointed out that all three of his current Firebirds assistant coaches — Buddy Williams, Sterling Leonard and Kwamaine Battle — played for him at Southern Nash.

“That’s a big thing,” Kennedy assured.

Kennedy’s wife, Crystal, is a heath sciences teacher and athletic trainer at Southern Nash. They have 13-year-old twin daughters, Maura and McKenzie. Kennedy said that Crystal may have only missed two games in 15 years and his parents and sister have been to almost every game as well since he got the job.

“Our girls have grown up at Southern Nash basketball and football games,” he said. “It’s definitely been a family affair and it’s awesome to share this with all three of them, my mom and dad and my sister.”