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.”
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
“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
“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.”