FRONT ROYAL — Jordan Kenney has literally grown up around basketball her whole life.
Being the daughter of a basketball coach gave her plenty of opportunities to play and fall in love with the game and she said that overall the experience of having a father as a coach has been a good one.
“We actually have a picture of me when I’m an infant sitting on a basketball court and I’m holding a basketball,” Kenney said. “I’ve always been in the gym with my dad because he’s coached basketball my entire life. I always went to practices when I was little and he’s always coached my Parks and Rec teams and also my (youth) soccer teams as well.”
Kenney’s father, Jim, was an assistant boys basketball coach when Jordan was born. However, the last 10 years he has been the head girls basketball coach at Skyline, where Jordan is now a senior and playing for her father.
“When she was born, I was still coaching boys at Warren County,” Jim Kenney said. “I’d bring her to practice when she was a baby. I’d bring her to practice when she was 2, 3 years old and she’d run around with a ball and help with drills. Then of course when we came to Skyline and I started coaching the girls here she’s always been around it.”
With all the basketball that Jordan Kenney has been around from an early age, it’s no surprise that basketball is her favorite sport. She said that the thing she loves most about the game is the relationships and friendships that you make being on a team.
“I have made lots of irreplaceable relationships and friendships throughout the years,” Jordan Kenney said. “After high school, I’m not going to remember losing this one game or missing this one shot. I’m going to remember the team I have right now, the relationships that I’m forming right now. That’s what’s going to last — that’s the most important part.”
Jordan Kenney got to see how those relationships and friendships worked on the court first-hand as she grew up watching her dad’s Skyline teams. She said she was around the team as much as possible and the players always treated her well.
“I always made them little Christmas cards and just loved being around them,” she said. “I would always be in the locker room with them whenever I could. I just loved the team environment.”
Jordan Kenney said after having watched her dad’s teams over the years it felt a little different when she was able to put the jersey on and play at Skyline.
“It was weird, because I’ve been watching all of these girls go through all four years,” Jordan Kenney said. “I’ve been watching everyone become a freshman get their first jersey and watch them go all the way through, cry on senior night and now it’s just like — it’s my turn now. Now it’s almost over and it’s kind of sad.”
Even though Jordan Kenney is the coach’s daughter, she didn’t see a lot of playing time her freshman and sophomore seasons as she played behind some other talented guards.
Last year, she saw more playing time and averaged 5.9 points and 1.3 steals per contest. She was also fourth in the area in 3-point percentage, shooting 26% (19-for-73).
“Jordan has definitely over the years had to earn everything she’s gotten,” Jim Kenney said. “She was on varsity as a freshman, limited playing time. Sophomore year on varsity, limited playing time, because she was playing behind (2019 Skyline graduates) Rachel (Sirbaugh) and she was playing behind Zaryn (Rateb). Last year she sort of stepped up and got a little more playing time. Then this year she’s expected to take a leadership role and she’s stepping into that — we’re working through that a little bit. Basketball wise, it’s been a process for her from freshman year to now to get to where she is.”
Jordan Kenney said her first two years were a real learning experience.
“Most people don’t really realize how big of a difference it is going from (junior varsity) to varsity,” she said. “It’s pretty much like being thrown to the wolves when you’re a freshman. I loved being on varsity when I was a freshman just because I got to practice with the older girls, which really helped out. It helped me learn to actually be a good teammate, be a good leader. I’m that older girl now and I just hope that people are looking at me the same way that I looked up to the older players when I was younger.”
This year Jordan Kenney has become one of the team’s top players and she said she’s enjoying her new role. She said shooting is her favorite part of the game and she especially loves shooting 3-pointers.
Jim Kenney said that not only has her shooting improved over the years, but he thinks her defense over the last couple years has improved as well.
While she’s enjoyed being the daughter of a coach, Jordan Kenney said it’s definitely been a learning process for both her and her dad.
“My dad has definitely gotten better at not being too hard on me, because it gets a lot when you’re making mistakes in a game and then your dad is right there yelling at you — it’s not always a good feeling,” Jordan Kenney said. “It’s gotten easier for me to kind of deal with all the criticism that he’s given me, and he’s gotten a lot better at figuring out what he should or shouldn’t say to me in front of the entire team. But it’s been a learning experience for both of us.”
Jim Kenney said that he’s learned not to talk too much about basketball at home and not to say too much to her right after the game.
“I try not to bring too much of this home as far as we’ll talk about things that worked, things that didn’t work,” Jim Kenney said. “But I try not to bring home the struggles or the kind of the logistics of basketball, because that’s not fair to her. She deserves to come home and not be inundated with basketball 24-7. And her mother, Mary, has helped me sort of work through that, because if it were up to me I’d probably would talk about it all the time. But I’ve learned over the years, just like the car ride home, sometimes if you have a bad game, it’s probably better to just let things settle down and talk about it the next day and the same with a good game, same with anything. So that’s part of our rules, we may talk about it a little bit, but we don’t dwell on it.”
Jordan Kenney said that she won’t be surprised if someday she follows in her dad’s footsteps and becomes a basketball coach.
“I feel like it may be inevitable that I end up being a coach, but we’ll see,” she said. “I think I would really enjoy it because I like teaching. I like being that leader for people — we’ll see what happens.”
Jordan Kenney plans to attend William and Mary College, where she just recently got accepted, and won’t be playing basketball at the next level. Jim Kenney said he thinks basketball has helped prepare Jordan for college.
“She’s been in this gym for most of her life and I think not just basketball but I think this school in general has prepared her well to move on to her next challenge,” Jim Kenney said. “ ... I think we’ve prepared her academically. I think basketball has prepared her for the challenges she’s going to face next year. You know you have to work, you have to put in the work. Nothing’s going to be handed to you. I know she’s mine, but she’s really a good kid. She’s really involved with volunteering and stuff at church. I just couldn’t ask for a better kid — I really couldn’t.”
Last year, the Hawks advanced to the Region 3B semifinals and played for a state tournament berth. Jordan Kenney said that she believes that this year’s squad, which has started off 2-4, has a chance to be just as good as last year’s team.
“That was the furthest that I had ever gotten on any team that I’ve played on,” Jordan Kenney said. “It’s like, ‘wow we could actually put our year up on that banner (in the gym) because there’s nothing on girls basketball, which kind of sucks. It would be really nice for that to be my team and so that is a goal — to win something. I think we definitely have a stronger chance than we’ve had in the past. I think if we do actually play up to the potential that we have that we can actually do something.”
The Hawks will play in Strasburg’s Ram Hardwood Classic on Dec. 27 and 30. Skyline will play Page County in the first game on Dec. 27 at 3 p.m. This year’s tournament has eight girls and eight boys teams and there are two separate brackets. Skyline is in a bracket with Page County, Stuarts Draft and East Hardy.
No matter how the rest of this season goes, both Jordan and Jim Kenney know it will be tough on senior night this year.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do on senior night — it’s going to be hard,” Jim Kenney said. “Senior night’s going to be hard this year. Senior night’s hard every year, but it’s really going to be tough I think. ...I’m going to really miss her next year.”
Jordan Kenney said it’s slowly starting to sink in that this is her last year playing high school basketball.
“It’s really weird because it hasn’t really set in yet that this is my last time that I’ll have this uniform on,” Jordan Kenney said. “I just got an acceptance letter from William and Mary and it’s like next year I’m going to be done with a semester of college. It’s so weird to think about that. And then some of my best friends are juniors this year and it’s just going to suck not being able to be here and watch all their games their senior year. My little sister, she’s going to be in eighth grade, and I won’t get to come see her games. It’s just slowly setting in that this is it — it’s bittersweet.”