It’s lunchtime in the school cafeteria on a late spring day and Assistant Principal Bill Kinsherf’s cell phone is buzzing with messages from his former Bishops football players; there are many of them who have heard he is retiring from the gridiron, and many others who are checking in as they often do with their beloved, “Coach K.”
“I get text messages from them all the time,” said Kinsherf ‘89, who served as coach at Archbishop Williams High School for 26 years - 22 as head coach. “Now that many of them are adults, it’s nice to have friendships with them, and after all these years, it’s great to see how much they want to remain connected to the school.”
With that kind of rapport with his former players, it’s no surprise that they and the AWHS community will celebrate Kinsherf at an event in his honor Friday, July 20, 7-11 p.m. at the Granite Links Pavilion Tent, 100 Quarry Hills Drive in Quincy. That event will also usher in the new alumni football association which Kinsherf will be involved in as he transitions from coaching to an increasingly demanding yet satisfying role as assistant principal.
“This will be the first August through Thanksgiving that I will have off since 1979, either playing or coaching,” said Kinsherf. “I’m excited to have some free time and eager to keep moving forward in my new role as assistant principal.”
Kinsherf’s retirement will free-up a lot more than regular season game time. “It’s a year-round job,” he said. “There are a lot of hours involved: film work, meetings, ordering equipment, fitting equipment, working with college coaches, sending kids to camps for college recruiting. It’s endless.”
His retirement, ironically, may also affect the schedule of his parents, Jim and Barbara. “I want to know what my parents are going to do this fall without me coaching because they’ve been to almost every game since the 1980’s when my brother and I were playing,” Kinsherf said with a laugh. “When I started coaching in 1992, they started coming back to all of the games.”
Kinsherf’s long-term role with the program is greatly appreciated. “It’s been an honor and a privilege to work with Coach K both personally and professionally,” said Gordie McClay, AWHS Athletic Director. “As a fellow coach in school, I’ve learned so much from him, and as Athletic Director, he has helped me countless times with the running of the Athletic Department. He’s been more than just a football coach; he’s been a mentor to student athletes, fellow coaches and myself. We respect his decision to step down and wish him the best.”
Kinsherf knows the program is in good hands. Matt Reggiannni ‘00, his assistant since 2004 and one of his former varsity players, is taking over as head coach. Matt is the brother of another former varsity player, Dan Reggiannini ‘05, who also played for Kinsherf. Barney Earle, an assistant for 21 years, the parent of players Ryan ‘15 and Casey ‘17, and Kinsherf’s brother-in-law, will also provide continuity for the program when he returns for the 2018 season. Kinsherf’s summer conditioning program, which he initiated when he first became coach and which is open to all athletes, will be run by Coach Reggiannini and Assistant Athletic Director Peter Umbrianna.
Coach K built his coaching career entirely at AWHS, where he was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a coach and player in 2016. As coach, he has tallied 117 wins - the most of any coach in the school’s nearly 70 year history. He has coached through three Catholic Central League titles in the Large School Division, plus four playoffs and two Super Bowls. Following a perfect 10-0 regular season in 2002, Kinsherf was recognized as a Boston Globe “Coach of the Year.”
“We had a nice stretch from 2002 to 2005,” said Kinsherf. “For all of the sophomores who were on the 2000 team when we went 0-10, we had quite an impressive turnaround by the time they were seniors when we went 10-0. It was one of the more memorable seasons. That turnaround really changed the whole makeup of the program leading to 7-3, 9-2 and 9-3 seasons.”
Kinsherf’s successes as a player for the Bishops were recognized when he was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame, like his brother Jim ‘87 and sister Karen ‘93 before him. Playing for another Hall of Fame coach, Kevin MacDonald, Kinsherf was a three-year letter winner, two-year starter as a fullback and linebacker, and a senior captain, noted AWHS President Dennis Duggan '70 at the ceremony. Kinsherf, Duggan added, was a also a member of three consecutive Catholic Central League championship teams that won 30 games with only two losses. His successes earned him recognition as a two-time CCL All-Star and as a Patriot Ledger All-Scholastic.
A multi-sport athlete, Kinsherf was a three-year CCL Track and Field All-Star, throwing the javelin for Hall of Fame Coach Art Svenson. He also ran Track and Field for Hall of Fame Coach Bryan Van Dorpe, and was a varsity basketball player for two years.
After college, Kinsherf returned to the Bishops as an assistant coach to MacDonald and when MacDonald left, Kinsherf was promoted to head coach. Complementing his career at AWHS, Kinsherf has also served as coach for the prestigious Shriner’s Classic - once as head coach and twice as assistant coach. The Classic is a fundraiser for the Shriners, who provide no-cost orthopedic and burn care to children under 18 at hospitals throughout North America.
Kinsherf’s passion for football complements his love of education. Starting as a full time teacher at AWHS in 2008, he drew on his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Mass., Boston, to teach World History classes. Drawing on his Master of Education Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Capella University, he developed curriculum for an innovative freshman Skills class which he also taught. The course integrated his sports and teaching knowledge of health and nutrition into lessons that developed skills in studying, reading, writing, making presentations, library research, technology, organization, and time management - skills which benefit students in all of their classes for all four years of high school and beyond.
Five years ago, Kinsherf moved up to administration, serving first as Director of Student Activities and most recently as Assistant Principal of Student Life for grades 7-12. It’s that position which, among other responsibilities, takes him daily to the cafeteria where he interacts with students, listening to their ideas and needs which he then brings to the table for the administrative team. His position, he notes, is “basically anything to do with student life, so discipline falls under that, as do student government and co-curricular activities. I also work with the teachers who moderate all of those activities.” Additionally, he’s the organizational force and the face behind the students’ biggest fundraiser, the annual Calendar Drive.
As his assistant principal role continues to expand, Kinsherf is especially excited about his work with Principal Dr. Michael Volonnino and Admissions Director Brett Marcotte to increase enrollments.
“I’ve been all over the map this year,” Kinsherf said. “I really want to get more involved with the admissions part and help out with the recruitment of students and student athletes. I have a background from the student life perspective, the athletic perspective, and now the academic perspective, so I can speak to the whole picture. There are only a few of us in the school who know everything Archbishop Williams, and I think I’m one of them.”
More than anything, Kinsherf knows that the true measure of his multi-faceted career at AWHS has been his success working with kids - as administrator, teacher, and for more than two decades - coach.
“I was definitely tough, but I was definitely fair,” Kinsherf said. “I feel I held the kids to high standards, and held them accountable for everything they did. I hope I have had a positive impact on their lives.” That, Mr. Kinsherf, is an understatement!