Kettering gives Cathedral players the chance to be heroes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 21, 2000

Rocky Kettering felt good. Actually, that may be something of an understatement. The Cathedral soccer coach was watching his young team hold to a 1-0 lead against St. Andrews in the first round of the playoffs last season.

His eyes wandered from the playing field to the spectacular sunset, the shouts and grunts from the game slowly fading as he recognized his contentment.

&uot;This is why I coach,&uot; he said. &uot;Every once in a while a moment just like this comes along.&uot;

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Cathedral lost that game, but Kettering hasn’t lost any of his enthusiasm or love for soccer, or his desire to pass those emotions on to his players.

&uot;I want them to enjoy the moment,&uot; he said. &uot;Sometimes it doesn’t get any better than high school sports. Your 15 minutes of fame could be during a high school soccer match.

&uot;I want them to take the worthwhile moments and enjoy them.&uot;

In his second year as varsity coach at Cathedral, Kettering has taken steps to ensure that more students receive more opportunities to have those golden moments by forming three separate soccer teams — boys varsity, girls varsity and boys junior varsity.

&uot;The interest was there,&uot; he said. &uot;I was able to separate them into age and skill groups so I didn’t have as many kids sitting on the bench.

&uot;We have over 50 kids involved in soccer at the school, and this gets more kids out playing,&uot; he said. &uot;It gives them more opportunities to be heroes.&uot;

Granting those opportunities is part of his coaching philosophy, Kettering said.

&uot;I try to guide them to a chance to succeed,&uot; he said. &uot;I try to do what I can, but it’s their own will and personality that takes them over the top.&uot;

And soccer players have interesting personalities, Kettering added. &uot;They’re a different group of kids,&uot; he said. &uot;They’re not your typical football-basketball-baseball players. They’re unique characters.&uot;

A native of Lafayette, La., Kettering and his family moved to Atlanta when he was young. He attended college at LSU, but returned to Atlanta to teach and coach for 10 years before he moved to Natchez, the hometown of his wife, Susan Mallory.

Although no longer a teacher at Cathedral, Kettering continues to coach all three teams, and will continue to do so for as long as he’s able, he said.

&uot;When they offered me the job (at St. Mary Parish Cathedral School Development Office), that was thing,&uot; he said. &uot;I said if I couldn’t coach, I didn’t want it.&uot;