Before retiring in July, Marty Kenney Sr. coached the Christian Brothers Academy baseball team for 46 years.
His son and replacement as the baseball coach at the Lincroft school, Marty Kenney Jr., is not going to make it that long.
“No shot,” he said, laughing.
“I don’t even know if I’ll be alive in 46 years,” said the 47-year-old Kenney Jr., still laughing. “My father was 24 when he took the job.”
Do not mistake Kenney Jr.’s pragmatism for a lack of enthusiasm. The son and CBA alum, who graduated from the Lincroft school in 1990, is stoked to take over the Colts and build on his father’s legacy, even if he will never be able to match his old man’s longevity.
Kenney Jr. landed the position in September and was announced to the public in a press release on Sept. 20. He is replacing a coach in his father who won 832 games, eight state sectional titles and three state championships, in 1977, 2009 and 2015.
“I really want to continue his legacy,” Kenney Jr. said. “It has become more and more important to me in recent years.”
“I’m happy for him. It’s something he’s earned,” said Marty Kenney Sr. “He’s been an assistant of mine, so it makes the transition rather smooth.”
Kenney Jr. played for Division 3 DeSales University and coached at the school from 1998-2005. He also coached for a variety of independent professional organizations in Illinois, Kansas and Indiana.
But in 2014, Kenney Jr. moved back to his Red Bank hometown because he wanted to settle down and stop traveling so much.
By the spring of 2015, he was coaching alongside his father in the CBA program. By 2016, he was working as CBA’s assistant athletic director, a job which included office hours and administrative tasks for the school’s athletic events.
Over that five-year period, Kenney Jr. felt his magnetic attraction to the CBA baseball program growing stronger and deeper. He had always felt himself a part of the program, even when he was traversing the country on his professional baseball journey.
But from 2015-2019, as he interacted with countless parents, players and CBA baseball alums, he truly realized the magnitude of what his father had built. It was a community institution that molded young men.
“My father built it, but now it’s bigger than him,” Kenney Jr. said.
The son will apply that humility to his new role. Coaching a high school program in 2019 is not the same as it was in 1974, when Kenney Sr. took over.
Now, as Kenney Jr. puts it, it’s about “facilitating.” It’s about talking to players about how they are feeling, giving them some decision-making power in the program and helping them get to the next level.
It’s still about developing character, but it’s also about developing the whole man.
“What more do you need? What can I help with? This is your program, so what should we continue to do with it?” Kenney Jr. said, describing his philosophy. “It’s a little more about giving out power.”
“One of his strengths is relationships,” said Vito Chiaravalloti, CBA’s athletic director, the man who hired Kenney Jr.
“He has a good rapport with the kids and they are excited he got the job,” Kenney Sr. said. “The parents are happy too.”
Kenney Sr. retired as a teacher in 2008. But now he is fully retired.
He plans to follow the program and perhaps even attend some games. But he will not be involved as an assistant coach.
The father is just going to let his son carry on his legacy.
“The program will always be a part of me,” he said. “But I’m sure I’ll find something new to do.”