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Football: Kenney focuses on sport, political life

Dan Murphy | Friday, November 17, 2006

For 6-foot, 180-pound defensive back Tim Kenney, donning the blue and gold for the past two years has fulfilled a life long aspiration. Kenney grew up just over two hours away from campus in Belvidere, Ill. He is a third-generation Domer, with both his father and grandfather having graduated from Notre Dame. “I grew up wearing a gold helmet and being a Notre Dame fan all through high school,” Kenney said. Kenney kept himself busy by captaining his football, basketball and baseball team in his senior year. He was All-State in football in his final season. That year he had 70 tackles and two interceptions for the Belvidere Buccaneers. The political science and Spanish major headed to the University of Illinois for his freshman year of college. He was in the process of walking on to their team when he learned that he had been accepted to Notre Dame. Two years later Kenney managed to walk on to play with the Irish. “It was nerve racking,” he said. “[Irish coach Charlie] Weis was really upfront with us. Pretty much everyday you weren’t sure if you would be cut but it was a great experience.”Kenney said he is dedicated to playing his role as the opponent’s defense week in and week out on the practice field and getting the starters ready to take the field on Saturdays. Off the field, Kenney has leaped into politics with a two summer internships – one in Springfield, Ill and the other in Los Angeles. While in the city of angels, he interned under governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and met the ex-movie star. “It piqued [Schwarzenegger’s] interest to hear that I was a football player,” Kenney said. “I asked him for some advice on how to gain some weight and get bigger.” Although the Governator didn’t have any helpful hints for beefing up, the experience was something Kenney will not soon forget.Kenney also spent a semester in Puebla, Mexico in order to help with supplementary Spanish major. Kenney was nervous about missing football and campus for such a long period of time but he had to leave in order to fully learn the language. “If I had to do it again I don’t know if I would want to be away from Notre Dame that long,” Kenney said. At the end of his time here in South Bend, Kenney is still uncertain about where he will go or what he will do. A career in politics is a possibility, but he also is exploring his options with graduate schools. Kenney also wants to stay involved with the game somehow after he hangs up his cleats this winter. Although he never wants to step into Weis’ shoes, Kenney would love to coach at the high school level or for youth programs in the future. Kenney said Belvidere’s defensive backs coach was a role model for him both on and off the field. “He is real good guy who is easy to get along with, but he is very serious when it comes to football,” Kenney said. He wouldn’t mind returning to the Bucs to coach along with old mentor, and continue to surround himself in football tradition.