Chesterton Tribune



Chesterton's Kevin Kinel to receive National Swimming Coaches award

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To get a career award, longevity is the key.

CHS boys and girls swim coach Kevin Kinel meets that criteria after 36 years at the school and it’s resulted in earning the Outstanding Service Award from the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association.

“I heard about it probably six months ago,” Kinel said. “It’s a service award. It’s a career award. It has to do with performance and accomplishments, your longevity in the sport and being involved in leadership.

“It’s a once in a lifetime thing and there are five people around the country that get it every few years.”

Kinel’s accomplishments at Chesterton are numerous. The girls teams have won 20 Duneland Athletic Conference and Sectional titles, including 17 in a row.

On the boys side, the Trojans have won 20 DAC titles and 18 Sectionals, all in a row.

“I still get nervous at swim meets,” Kinel said. “I had a couple young coaches at the State Meet this year ask me if I get nervous anymore. Of course you do. I think when you don’t get that adrenalin drive, it’s probably time to be done.

“Over the years, the kids have made me look good.”

To earn the award, a member of the NISCA must have served the aquatics community for at least 15 years, been an NISCA member in good standing for at least 10 years, had above average success as a competitive coach and shown leadership at the local level or the national level in interscholastic aquatics.

“What I really think is neat is that I didn’t apply for it,” Kinel said. “They tell you that your name was submitted and ask you to send a resume. I was surprised when I got it.”

The Trojans have won four boys IHSAA State Championships and one National Championship to go along with 45 individual event and relay state championships on the boys and girls sides.

“You look at the boards on the wall, and see the names, and it brings back a lot of memories,” Kinel said. “I find myself reminiscing with the kids a bunch. Something will happen in a meet or practice and I’ll use those kids up on the wall as motivation or a lesson.

“These kids are helping even now after they’re gone and they don’t even realize it.”

And the kids are the reason Kinel took the job back during the 1980-81 school year.

“The reason we are really all doing this is to show the kids there is more to life than athletics,” Kinel said. “You’re teaching them life lessons at every level. To be disciplined, goal-oriented, not afraid to reach high, deal with obstacles that life may present, gracefully accept the things you get and move on from the things you don’t.

“When the kids come back, it’s to give back to the program that helped them. That’s really all you can ask for as a coach.”

Kinel’s hard work has been recognized before. He’s been named Indiana State Swim Coach of the Year on four occasions and was the National Federation Coach of the Year. Kinel has been named the Girls Sectional Coach of the Year 18 times and the Boys 11 times.

He has earned the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association District 1 Coach of the Year Award and the Indiana Senior Coach of the Year Award (5 times).

“I think that when you’re coaching you are so busy all the time that you don’t get to sit back and reflect,” Kinel said. “I think when I eventually get out of it, I’ll appreciate those things more.”

Kinel was also inducted into the Indiana Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame in the spring of 2007.

“This sport, as in any, it’s so hard,” Kinel said. “You put in so much time. The good things you get you really do cherish. All the hard work that’s gone into it is recognized. Just like when kids swim a best time and see that clock, you can see it on their faces. Athletics teaches kids so much more than just go fast, make a basket, score a touchdown or hit a home run.

“It’s been a fun journey for me.”

Now that journey will take him to Atlanta for the Awards Banquet on March 26 at Georgia Tech University. Kinel’s name will also be displayed in the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

“It’s in Atlanta, so (wife) Barb and I will be heading there and it’s at the same time as the NCAA’s,” Kinel said. “I’ll get to go over to that and see some former swimmers compete. That’s pretty cool.”

And again, Kinel takes the conversation back to the kids.

“I get kids in class that look up and see all those names of former kids and ask me things having no idea what really went into it,” Kinel said. “Sometimes they think it’s really cool and sometimes they just think it means I’m pretty old and have been here a long time.”

Among the general publicity, Kinel will add another ring to his collection.

“One of the things you get with this is a ring,” Kinel said. “All of our state championship rings and our national championship ring are all sitting in a case at home. When all this is eventually done, I’ll be able to look at those and they’ll really be a memorable moment in my life.”


Posted 3/9/2016





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