Friday, February 23, 2024


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Sports Article
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UPSD Board Votes to Name Football Stadium after Keeny
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            In the immediate aftermath of Bill Keeny's celebration of life last summer, Denny Kleinbach realized something needed to be done to honor someone who had

William "Bill" Kenny

done so much for the Upper Perkiomen Valley.

            According to Kleinbach, the former football coach taught his players how to win over the support of the community. More importantly, Keeny showed them how to succeed in life.

"He taught us not to be quitters," Kleinbach said.

            Last week, the Upper Perkiomen School Board approved a motion to rename the high school football stadium after William L. Keeny. For 20 seasons, beginning in 1960, he accumulated a record of 104-101-7 and captured two Bux-Mont League titles, including an outright crown in 1966. Relying on ingenuity and discipline, he converted the Indians from a league doormat to a perennial contender.

            Dave Keeny described has father, who died in April 2019,  at the age of 84, as a teacher, leader, motivator of young people and a taskmaster who was very demanding on the field. A statement from the Keeny family describes the endeavor as a tribute to Bill's leadership, his coaching staff of twenty years, and the two decades of players who believed and proved they could win against larger schools in the Bux-Mont League.

            In a prepared statement, the family thanked Superintendent Allyn Roche and Assistant Superintendent Andrea Farina, as well as the school board members for supporting the application. Melanie Cunningham and Stephen Cunningham each voted against the motion, which was not initially included in the May 7 regular meeting agenda.

            Dave Keeny, a 1978 graduate of the high school, said he thinks his father would be honored by the recognition. According to Kleinbach, Bill Keeny would be especially moved that his former players helped make it happen.

More than 50 former Upper Perkiomen players wrote letters of support to the school board, according to Kleinbach. He said more than 100 logged into the school board meeting on Zoom. According to Kleinbach, the media referred to Upper Perkiomen's players during the early 1960s as "Keeny's Kids".

            "Everyone took it as a joke," said Kleinbach, a 1965 graduate who played at Syracuse University.

      Kleinbach grew up in Green Lane and lives in Half Moon Bay, a city 35 miles south of San Francisco, built a database of former players gathered from the reunion, organized a petition drive and submitted a letter in support of the proposal. He said the letter highlighted  20 accomplishments, including Keeny being inducted into the Pennsylvania Football Coaches Hall of Fame.

            During the meeting, board Vice President Mike Elliot and Member Dana Hipszer referenced an outpouring of public support for the renaming. Both described the recognition as long overdue. Peg Pennepacker described the motion to name the football stadium after someone who committed his entire life to the school district as an easy decision and a good thing.

"It doesn't cost us anything," Pennepacker said before the vote. "It will provide a small measure of cache with the community for this board to take on the big challenges ahead."

            Stephen Cunningham repeated his concerns about renaming the stadium, while emphasizing the point that he has no personal issues with Bill Keeny. The member said he did not want to create a precedent with the renaming. He pointed out that the district would have to maintain whatever is installed, and that it would be responsible for any repairs.

            "I am not against Mr. Keeny for any reason," Stephen Cunningham said.

            The Keeny family has agreed to pay for any related signage. District officials did not provide any details related to the location of the sign or any future dedication ceremony.

Kleinbach said he would prefer to see a sign recognizing Bill Keeny near the stadium press box as well as a monument near the entrance so people walking into the field can reflect in his contributions.

            "Coach Keeny always told us to set our goals much higher than we thought was possible," Kleinbach said. "That way you'll get farther in life than you ever expected."






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