Kevin Cooney

Kevin Cooney has spent 20 seasons as head coach at Florida Atlantic University. He has compiled more than 700 victories with the Owls and more than 850 wins in his 24-year career as a head coach. Cooney has spent the past five seasons offering his thoughts on baseball - and other things - for Cooney's Owls finished their first season in the Sun Belt Conference at 36-22 in 2007.




April 24, 2008

I Got a Life I Need to Start

My attempt to thank all those who have been such an important part of my experience as a coach will certainly fall short. It would rival the Litany of The Saints, and certainly prove a daunting challenge to someone who can’t even remember his kids’ names.

For some reason, the Lord has chosen to smile on the Cooney family for years. He provided me with great parents and a brother who was my first baseball hero.

My parents steered me towards baseball at a young age and never changed course. I believe it was all they wanted me to do in life, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Joe Garvey was my high school coach at Essex Catholic in Newark. He showed me that a coach can be compassionate and funny and still be hard-nosed and competitive.

Clary Anderson at Montclair State was the single biggest influence in my life. So much of what I believe as a coach and as a man I learned at his side. He taught me the value of using good English and having good hitters. Clary was a man of few words, but I tried to learn from him all he said. Whatever I have become, I owe in great measure to him.

I need to thank Bill Digouardi for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to coach at Montclair State and former Florida Atlantic President Anthony Catanese for giving me a second chance.

Florida Atlantic’s current president, Frank Brogan, has been a great supporter, and in return, I have numerous times played his straight man. He’s been a good friend in high places.

I’ve been fortunate the past few years to work under Craig Angelos. It is a plus to have a baseball man as your Athletics Director, and a good person as well.

I have enjoyed the friendships made over 21 years with the coaches and staff here at Florida Atlantic. There have been some great people, some interesting personalities, but always a group of people willing to work hard, sometimes against great odds, to provide a positive environment for the student athletes at FAU.

A head coach needs good assistants in order to be successful. In my case, we needed GREAT assistants!

At Montclair State, Rich O’Connor and Rick Giancola provided me great advice and were never afraid to voice their suggestions no matter the risk. They were always sure to advise me I’d get credit for being a genius if the gambles worked. They remain friends long after Leroy Horn’s home run.

Gonzalo Carcache, Mike Hutch, Kevin O’Sullivan, Steve Whitaker, Bob Deutschman, Jim Lyttle, George Roig, Norberto Lopez, Tony Fossas, and all the student assistant coaches were the best at the difficult task of making me look good. Their shared friendships, long hours and their hard work will always be appreciated.

Since 1991 Associate Head Coach John McCormack has worked tirelessly to build a better program at Florida Atlantic University. Never shy about voicing his opinion, Mac convinced me he could find a way to get better players here and never failed to do so. He spent the first year rebuilding local relationships and managed to convince three future big-leaguers and numerous other great players to be part of a growing program.

It’s my firm hope that Mac is given the opportunity to continue his work and become FAU’s next head coach.

There are so many players from Watchung Hills, Mount Olive, Montclair State and Florida Atlantic for me to thank that I hesitate to start. Many have stayed in touch throughout the years, and thanks to the anonymity of e-mail, a number have expressed their feelings in very heartfelt ways.

Being a part of the lives of so many young men has been the best part of this job.

Whether it was celebrating a thrilling win in the dugout, or desperately searching for words to console or inspire after a devastating loss, it was an honor to stand in front of all those boys and feel their eyes on me.

As time passed, I realized that the great gift of coaching baseball came with an even greater responsibility.

Though the public sees college athletes as adults, the truth is they are usually closer to 10 than they are to 30. The players in our charge are someone’s children. As time passed, that fact grew more important to me.

To the parents who entrusted me with their sons, I say thank you. It was my hope to treat them as I would my own. For those times I failed, I hope I am forgiven. It was my pleasure to watch them grow up to be adults.

I thank my players for their effort, their spirit and for all they have done for Florida Atlantic University. The memories you have given me are seared forever in my mind’s eye.

The past 21 years at Florida Atlantic have brought me soaring highs, staggering lows and always the promise of a better tomorrow. In short those years mirrored our lives.

It’s important to remember that we take as much from struggle and loss as we do from all our success. I will remember the tough times as well as the joyful moments. The outhouse to the’s all part of the ride.

I’d like to thank my family...Maggie, Luke, Jim, Jeff and my wife Mary Beth.

To the children, I hope that the missed birthdays, communions, little league and high school games, have somehow been offset by running around our field as kids, traveling on trips and knowing I’m your biggest fan.

Mary Beth has managed to handle the absences, both physical and mental, that the job brings in a way that has enabled me to pursue my dreams. Her understanding, love and counsel have been invaluable.

Over the years, much of how I feel about things I saw expressed in various Bruce Springsteen songs.

Not surprisingly this moment is no different.

As my family and I head to a beautiful farm on the Tennessee River and the start of the next chapter of our lives, here are some words which express my thoughts:

I got somethin’ in my heart, I been waitin’ to give
I got a life I wanna start, yeah one I been waitin’ to live
No more waitin’;
tonight I feel the light, I say the prayer
I open the door, and I climb the stairs

Thank you all for the life you gave me.


Leah- from Bruce Springsteen’s Devils and Dust