High school sports

Former Tiger Kenniston to retire from BAHS at end of school year

Standout three-sport athlete, coach, umpire, athletic director, hall-of-famer has had storied career in education
By Mark Haskell | Feb 11, 2020
Photo by: Mark Haskell Terry Kenniston.

Belfast — Terry Kenniston has been a mainstay in the realm of Maine athletics — especially the Midcoast — for more than four decades.

And now, after 44 years in various positions as a coach or school administrator, the 65-year-old Kenniston has decided to call it a career as he plans to step down from his position as Belfast Area High School’s assistant principal and athletic director at the end of the school year.

“I made the decision end of the summer,” he said. “I knew going in it was year 44 and it had been a good career. But it’s time to do something else. I just thought I’ll be 66 this summer and I do like what I do, but I’m on the end of that spectrum so I thought I should take some time and enjoy it.”

Kenniston was inducted into the Midcoast Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. He was the first 1,000-point scorer in the history of Rockland District High School — he was a standout basketball guard, baseball catcher and football quarterback for the Tigers — and has coached basketball at Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield (boys college prep), Mount Blue of Farmington (boys), Rockland (girls) and Belfast (boys).

In the past, he also coached varsity baseball and jayvee basketball at Penquis High School of Milo, golf at MCI and was a varsity baseball assistant at Mount Blue. He also was a longtime baseball umpire and considered one of the best in the state.

In addition, Kenniston has been a school administrator in various capacities — principal, assistant principal and athletic director — at schools in Thomaston, Hope, Bucksport, Old Town, Rockland and, most recently, Belfast.

An incredible basketball perimeter shooter and one of the most competitive — and talented — athletes ever to come from the Midcoast, Kenniston also played basketball at the University of Maine.

While his career in education began in 1976, he has been an avid sports fan for much longer than that. As a 1972 Rockland District High School graduate, he recalled watching the Tigers make postseason tournament runs in the 1960s.

Kenniston said he and his wife, Kimm, of 11 years, sold their house in Hampden and now live in Hermon, which factored into his decision.

“We were able to downsize and take away some of the financial burdens and concerns and we looked at the situation and said, ‘Hey we can do this,' " he said.

He said he already has had people approach him about potential work opportunities, but “right now my plan is to retire.”

“My plan right now is to play golf in the summer and the fall.”

Kenniston looks back on his career fondly, with one of his most rewarding decisions “was the addition of unified basketball at Belfast last year.”

“I’ve seen teams win regional championships and state championships, but these kids just playing the game, I think they get just as much excitement from that as some of those kids do making it to the pinnacle of high school athletics,” he said. “I’m really glad we were able to accomplish that.”

Kenniston had a bird's-eye view of a few unified basketball games in the sport’s infancy in the state. His wife is the special education director at Hampden Academy, a school that was in on unified basketball from the start.

“I went to a couple of those games and then I approached our special education director and people within the school to make sure we had support and people who were willing to coach,” he said. “That’s a highlight of what it’s all about. Those kids just truly enjoy being out on that court.”

Kenniston said he looks back fondly on a few of the Rockland girls basketball teams in the mid-1990s that nearly captured a regional championship, in addition to coaching the MCI prep boys team early in his career, which was “quite an experience,” playing against the junior varsity teams of other colleges.

“We played at Boston College one night [in 1980] and the games start at five or so, so the varsity game can start [at 7],” he said. “We played four overtimes. By the time we finished, the arena at Boston College was full waiting for the varsity game. But the crowd really got into that game. We won [and] I think the final score was 104-103. Just to watch those kids who were normally playing in front of smaller crowds to see that arena fill up, you could see the level of excitement for the kids increase too.”

When asked about whether or not he would consider a return to coaching down the road, Kenniston said, “I never rule anything out.”

“My son [Shawn] is coaching the Bucksport girls,” he said. “So if I wanted to get involved in that, I could submit a volunteer application and be part of that. I’m not sure the every day grind, or riding the school bus in the winters in Maine is really appealing at my age.

“But you never know. I could get bored.”

In the short term, Kenniston plans to go the route of many retirees and “play a lot of golf.” He said the idea of “going to Florida for six to eight weeks” to do that is certainly appealing.

“My wife asked me, ‘When would you go?’ And I said I don’t think I could go until after the [basketball] tournament [in February],” he said. “Tournament week has been part of my life since the 60s when I followed the Rockland Tigers when Carl Woodman and Mike McGuire and that group played. That’s been something I’ve followed throughout my career, and I can’t remember a time where I didn’t attend tournament games and that’s something I’ve always enjoyed.”

Though he has no dogs — or Lions — in this year’s basketball tournament, Kenniston still will be in attendance at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor in his final year as Belfast’s athletic director.

Kenniston said he plans to take in much of the Class B North tournament, in addition to watching teams from Stearns of Millinocket and Schenck of East Millinocket, where his wife originally is from.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Harry Fitzgerald | Feb 13, 2020 10:24

Congratulations on a great career Terry! You influenced thousands of students throughout the years, have a wonderful retirement. Maybe we will meet up again at the next Festival of Champions,  where you can just get to enjoy it!

Nancy Fitzgerald

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