For 11 years Jed Kennedy made decisions based on his football coaching career. When he recently accepted the Brookfield Central head football position, his family came first.
Kennedy, the former State Coach of the Year when he led Kenosha Bradford to the state championship in 2011, has been married to his wife, Melissa, for 11 years and has two girls, Makenna, 8, and Shaelyn, 5. He praised the Elmbrook School District, the community and the program when doing his first interview with the local media.
"The main thing was the opportunity it presented for my family," Kennedy said. "For the first 11 years my decisions were made for my career in football. This move was the best for my family.
"The Elmbrook school system is second to none. The Brookfield community is awesome. As for football, the Brookfield Central program is one of the best big-school jobs in the state."
Todd Sobrilsky, the Lancers athletic and activities director, is thrilled with Kennedy's hiring.
"No question about his knowledge, and his record speaks for itself," Sobrilsky said. "But based on the people we talked to, he has a unique ability to build relationships with kids.
"We feel very, very fortunate to be able to secure his services here for us and Lancer Nation. We think it's going to be a great match."
Kennedy has a reputation for improving not only the football programs he has been with but the related areas off the field that are important as well. Thanks to former coach Jamie Meulemans a great foundation has been laid down already.
"I'm most proud of the fact that every place I have been is better than before I got there," Kennedy said. "The weight room, the fundraising, the parental involvement; a lot of those things are in place here thanks to Jamie Meulemans — a tremendous foundation is set. Now it's my job to take it to another height."
The past two seasons Kennedy coached football and taught physical education at Edgewater High School in Florida (2013) and at Pulaski High School in Pulaski (2012).
But Kennedy made his mark when he coached at Kenosha Bradford from 2007-11, compiling a 54-9 record (.857 winning percentage) in five seasons.
He was named Associated Press and Wisconsin Football Coaches Association/Green Bay Packer Coach of the Year in 2011 when his Red Devils won the WIAA Division 1 State Championship.
His Bradford teams advanced to the state quarterfinals in 2007-09 and state semifinals in 2010 before winning it all.
He won the Southeast Conference title in 2009 and 2011, a first for the school since 1987, and was named the conference coach of the year both seasons.
His Bradford teams won 14 playoff games in five years, an outstanding accomplishment since the Red Devils had won only two playoff games before he arrived.
He helped 27 players in four years continue to play football at a higher level.
Kennedy considers himself "an offensive guy, who will be heavily involved with the offense." His offense will contain multiple option components — he has run the spread option — and his defense will feature a multiple-front 3-4 defense.
When asked about his philosophy, he showed that he has been flexible over his career.
"At one point we were under center 100 percent of the time," he said. "Last year we ran the shotgun 60 percent of the time. We will adjust depending on how the personnel changes."
Kennedy also was in administration at Bradford, holding the athletic director position in 2011-12 as well as being dean of students from 2010 to 2012. He also taught physical education and health from 2007-09.
He talked about how much working with student-athletes on and off the field is important to him.
"They tie together. When kids leave the football program, I want them to be better men because they played football at Brookfield Central. Whether they are the best player or a reserve player on the team, I want them to have a great experience.
"People always talk about wins, but it's a process. Do the right things and wins and losses will take care of themselves. I'm a team guy. The words 'we' and 'us' are more important than 'me' and 'I.' I truly engulf that. If you have been able to do that, you give yourself great things."
Kennedy also has developed leadership programs at the various schools he has been involved with. He believes leadership is very important in football, as well as life.
"It's huge. Great teams have great leaders," he said. "Leaders are not born, it is something that's taught. On the field, leadership in football is in crunchtime. Third and four, you need a stop, you have to have leaders that do the job.
"It is the same in everyday life. We're not there all the time, and the kids have to make tough decisions. It's important what kind they make. Leadership decisions that are made separate the average from good and the good from great."
In the beginning
Kennedy began his head coaching career at Decatur MacArthur High School in Decatur, Ill., in 2005-06, also teaching physical education.
His football teams increased their level of wins in just two years and he helped rejuvenate a program to have its second-best season in 12 years, more than doubling the student-athletes participating in football.
He began his football coaching career in 2002 as an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls; he then moved on to Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs, Fla., for the 2003-04 season. He coached inside linebackers at one of the top schools in Florida.
So what are his expectations for his new team?
"When I took this job, I felt we can compete on a regular basis for a state title," Kennedy said.
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