While their playing days might be over, the lessons Hancock County’s community leaders learned on the sports fields continue to guide them today. In this week-long series, we look back on the positive effect athletics had on their lives.
GREENFIELD — “Next play.”
It’s a common refrain in basketball circles, usually barked out of the mouths of coaches following a turnover or missed shot.
John Kennedy lived that mantra in a basketball game during his high school days at the Latin School of Indianapolis, albeit in an atypical hardwood circumstance.
While playing defense, Kennedy leapt up for a rebound, corralled the ball – and accidentally attempted to put the ball through the wrong basket.
“As I was going up for the shot, my brain caught up with my action. I do remember thinking, ‘Oh, no,’ and pulling the ball back,” Kennedy said, before joking, “Or at least that is my story, and I am sticking to it.”
Part two of that story is where ‘next play’ comes in.
“The best thing for me was the fact that I went out there and I do remember blocking a shot – not one of my own teammates – moments after that. I blocked it with authority,” Kennedy recalled. “I was able to redeem myself quickly and had a decent game.”
Kennedy said the message was clear.
“The lesson learned (was) you can really screw up and have a really embarrassing moment, but you will survive and succeed, whether (it’s) on the court or in life,” he said.
Kennedy eventually learned the value of having a lifelong teammate, too.
After the Latin School, Kennedy attended Purdue for undergraduate studies. He then spent four years at the Naval Academy becoming an officer before moving on to earn his MBA in Finance from Rutgers University in New Jersey.
It was Rick Roberts, an old basketball teammate, who recruited Kennedy to Greenfield.
“It all started when Rick looked me up when I returned to Indy after a long absence with adventures as a Naval Officer followed by time at Rutgers grad school,” said Kennedy, who also played football at the Latin School and managed the baseball team. “Rick called one day and welcomed an old teammate back home and soon thereafter introduced me to Brad Herndon, the Chief Investment Officer at Greenfield Banking Co.”
Herndon eventually hired Kennedy, who rose through the ranks at GBC and is now President and CEO.
“So, little did I know as a young high school kid running wind sprints until we about dropped or shooting baskets at the foul line over and over again until we got that shot down that the guy suffering right next to me in a small, little-known high school would be so influential in my life,” said Kennedy, now 57. “Basketball has been good to me.”
Kennedy’s kin have flourished in a different sport: cross country.
Kennedy’s son Michael, an incoming freshman at the Naval Academy, was a two-time Academic All-State selection in cross country at Scecina High School and runs cross country for the Midshipmen. Daughter Jacqueline set the Scecina cross country record as a freshman last fall with a time of 20 minutes, 56 seconds and was one spot away from qualifying for semistate.
“My family’s been very fortunate playing sports,” Kennedy said.
President and CEO of Greenfield Banking Co.
Education: Latin School of Indianapolis (High School); Purdue University (Undergraduate); Naval Academy; Rutgers University (Masters)
Family: Wife, Cris; children, John (Junior at Indiana University), Michael (Freshman at Naval Academy), Jacqueline (Sophomore at Scecina High School)