Female Athletes 2015-16: No. 4, Hannah Kenny

Nich Wolak • Jul 13, 2016 at 2:00 AM

The Tribune is counting down its top five teams, male and female athletes of the 2015-16 school year. The No. 4 female athlete, Hannah Kenny, brought leadership to the table as a senior cross country and soccer standout at Grand Haven.

Cross County

Kenny was the No. 2 runner on Grand Haven’s state qualifying squad, finishing in the top 15 in the O-K Red Conference (19 minutes, 27 seconds) and top half of the Division 1 state meet (19:55).

Grand Haven varsity cross country coach Scott Przystas on Kenny: “Hannah is every coach’s dream. I’ve gotten the privilege of coaching her since seventh grade in basketball. She started high school as a three-sport athlete — cross country, basketball and soccer. … She’s just a well-rounded athlete, very coachable. She was a captain for me this year. She wasn’t the most gifted athlete we’ve ever had, but work-ethic wise, she got it. She understood what needed to be done. She had a stellar running career, she’s going to run at Hope (College) this year.”

On Kenny’s leadership: “I think her leadership brought us along. … She was the one doing the coaching most of the time. When she was coaching others, she was coaching herself, too.”


On Kenny’s openness to playing multiple sports: “I sit on the MHSAA multi-sport task force. She was the epitome of what we want high school athletes to be. She wasn’t a single-sport athlete. She gave every sport a chance, until she wanted to specialize her junior and senior year, which makes a lot more sense than these kids who want to do it at 10 or 12.”

On seeing Kenny progress since her freshman year as a runner: “She was pretty clueless about what running was and what it took, but she liked the idea of pushing herself and seeing what her limits were. And it was something different for her. Soccer was pretty much her whole life until then. … She asked questions. She went to Boulder, Colo. for a running camp one summer with me. She saw results from the work that she put in, she was rewarded. … She was All-Conference and part of state-qualifying teams all four years. She’s got a good head on her shoulder, too. … All four years she was Academic All-Sate, and our teams were top five Academic All-State all four years. She was a part of that.”


Kenny was an All-Conference defender for Grand Haven.

Grand Haven varsity coach Jared Kram on Kenny: “One of the things that stands out above all else for Hannah, is she’s one of the most gifted athletes we’ve had. She’s a great cross-country runner, she’s calm, she’s strong, she’s fast and she played more than any player on the team. Her endurance level (is amazing). You can see her cross training really helps her thrive in soccer. Although she gets tired like all athletes, her endurance is far and away better than other players on the field.”

On Kenny’s leadership: “She has been on the varsity team for four years. Even as a younger player, she had a presence about her and a way of speaking to the other players and leading by example that everyone gravitated toward. She’s super sensitive, very mature and she understands the psychology of the game: when to control her emotions and when to stir up the emotions of the other players to get the most out of them. She’s leadership exemplified.”

On that leadership continuing to blossom as Kenny grew older: “The funny thing with Hannah is, you could always see her qualities as a younger player. It’s not like one year she just showed up and became a leader. … What I saw was an increase in her self confidence — not only as a soccer, player, but as a leader (too). I think some of that comes for athletes just getting older.”

On what makes Kenny a good defender: “Anytime you’re a defender, the first thing you want to have is a ball winner. She’s not only capable of running down almost anyone we played, but her size and strength on the back line is a really formidable gift to have. She’s just as tall or taller (than her opponents), she’s stronger and she’s as fast or faster. … She’s able to battle for those balls, and win most of the 50-50s.”

Spring Lake girls soccer coach Jeremy Thelen on Kenny: "She is a physical brut out there, who could overpower opponents at times. She wasn't ever afraid to mix it up and was always very difficult to move the ball on. More importantly, she's a great kid. I've known her for a long time and she’s a special person onto of being a special athlete.”

Best of the rest

No. 5: Spring Lake’s Madelyn Nelson


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