Assistant football coach also is East Aurora’s biggest fan
By Denise Crosby firstname.lastname@example.org October 13, 2013 9:06PM
Former East High student, teacher and coach Steve Kenyon, who last year returned to the Tomcat football program, was named Grand Marshal of this year's Homecoming Parade. He is pictured with wife Janet. | Submitted
Updated: November 15, 2013 6:20AM
Every school needs a student/athlete like Steve Kenyon.
Or a teacher.
Or a coach.
Or an alumni association president.
Or a homecoming parade grand marshal.
Mostly, every school needs a fan like Steve Kenyon.
The 64-year-old has bled red and black, East Aurora High School’s colors, as far back as 1963, when he was a 12-year-old middle-schooler watching in awe as the Tomcat football team went undefeated in conference play.
That passionate heart pumped even harder when he became a linebacker for the team a few years later. And it didn’t let up when, after college, he came back to East to teach and coach wrestlers and another generation of football prep stars, including Kurt Becker.
Then times began to change on the East Side of Aurora, and with change came financial difficulties that threatened to wipe out athletics at the school. That uncertainty led to Kenyon’s 1993 decision to move to Naperville Central, where he remained as a teacher until his retirement in 2006, and where he was assistant football coach until something so enticing came along, he could not turn it down.
That other offer? To return to East’s football program. And this time, he’d be coaching under his former star player, Kurt Becker, who had gone on to have a Super Bowl career with the Chicago Bears.
This East alum duo, who also used to hunt together, shared a bond that transcended football. But more than anything, the former NFL player and his one-time high school coach still bled red and black. And they decided it was time to build the Tomcats into winners again.
Now in their second year coaching at East, Kenyon and Becker are doing just that. The team snapped a 44-game losing streak in a dramatic come-from-behind win against Elgin recently, which led to Becker being named Coach of the Week by the Chicago Bears. But the head coach, who will be honored at the Dec. 29 Bears/Packers game, gives most of the credit to his assistants.
That includes Kenyon, of course, who has found other ways besides coaching to profess his red and black pride. Eight years ago he took over as president of the East Aurora Football Old Timers Association, which was founded back in 1945. This year’s annual banquet, which will be Oct. 24, will honor the team from 1988 a quarter century after its season, as well as that undefeated ‘63 team which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
It’s no wonder Kenyon was chosen to be grand marshal of last week’s East Aurora Homecoming parade. The honor was especially poignant, as Kenyon missed the first part of this football season after undergoing bypass surgery following a heart attack at the school.
But when you bleed black and red the way Kenyon does, not even a scare like that can keep you off the field for long.
“It was great being back,” he said of last Monday’s practice that reunited him with the team. “I guess being a Tomcat is just part of who I am.”