THSADA Spotlight: Maria Kennedy
El Paso ISD Athletic Director
THSADA Region 4 Director
I grew up with mostly boys in Van Horn, Texas. I have 6 brothers and one sister. I was the biggest tom-boy on the block. Being competitive was my survival tool. I always tell people the reason I am so mean is because I had to stick up for myself all the time.
I had great role models during my school years that encouraged me throughout that include many teacher and coaches. There are so many people that I could not begin to name them all but a few I would like to recognize…John Curry (Coach), Ralph Zamarrippa (band director), and Mr. Britt Webb (Principal).
I graduated from Van Horn High School and then attended Sul Ross State University for my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. After college, I started as a Middle School coach and worked my way to High School as an assistant before becoming a Head Coach. Having coached at all levels and a variety of sports was a great experience. I feel it is important to have many different experiences to make you more effective. It gives you a better understanding of the different levels of coaching and how important it is to appreciate what is expected.
My coaching career began in Victoria, Texas at Howell Intermediate under the leadership of Jan Lahodny (legendary basketball coach). From there I moved to Seminole Middle School. In 1986 I married my husband Aubrey and moved to El Paso where I started at Coldwell Elementary, then Irvin High School, and lastly Franklin High School.
I joined the athletic department as an Assistant Director for 11 years in the fall of 2003. As the Assistant Director, I felt it was my role to make life easier for my boss (Ken Owen). His direction and guidance were huge in my role as the current Athletic Director of 11 High Schools and 17 Middle Schools. He always made me get out of my comfort zone and gave me leeway to try new things.
In my 36 years in education, 20 of those coaching and the last 16 in the Athletic Department, have all been interesting. The most interesting or notable aspect of my current position has been all the amazing people I have met in the last 16 years.
When I first started as an assistant, the first time I had to talk to another Athletic Director about playoffs was interesting. Before heading to my first AD conference, I did not know very many ADs personally. Sitting in a class at AD conference, I vividly remember when we introduced ourselves and met Kenny Catney for the first time in person after speaking to him on the phone numerous times that year. That was kind of “cool”.
The most enjoyable thing about my job is working with the people I work with on a daily basis; not just my coaches but all the Area Athletic Directors that I help lead. Getting to be a big part of the athletic “realm” is so much fun! I want to leave athletics in El Paso a little bit better than when I started.
We should learn something new every day, regardless of how unimportant it may seem. I have learned to be patient and understanding and most importantly how to pick which battles to fight. I hope that I have served my coaches in a manner that when I retire, they will be much better than when I started.
The most challenging right now is COVID-19…not knowing what each moment brings is the most frustrating. Athletics is the bright shining light that will get us through all of this.
I have served in the THSADA as the current Region 4 Director and on the NIAAA Committee.
I also served on the THSCA’s Urban ISD Athletic Directors Committee.