“I was really surprised,” said Kendall. “I thought it was a mistake.
By Angel Wyrwas
Last May Baker Tennis Coach Tom Kendall was notified that he had been voted Girls Tennis Coach of the Year for Class B/C by the Montana Coaches Association. “I was really surprised,” said Kendall. “I thought it was a mistake. There are so many other coaches in the state that are great at what they do. I joked that they might need to do a recount.”
Coaches are voted by their fellow MCA members for “Coach of the Year” for their respective sport. Kendall was honored at the MCA Awards Program, in conjunction with the MCA All-Sport Coaches Clinic, on August 3rd, 2017 at the Great Falls High Auditorium in Great Falls. He received a plaque and a ‘Super Bowl’ sized ring.
Kendall is an Elementary Physical Education teacher/ Driver’s Education instructor for Baker Schools. “I played tennis on my own in high school,” said Kendall. “Then I tried out for the tennis team at Dickinson State University and played throughout college. I really enjoy the sport.”
He enjoys it so much that he has been coaching tennis for thirty years, developing the tennis program in Baker. “When I started, Classes A, B and C competed together. The first two years we didn’t win a match,” said Kendall.
A lot has changed since those first years. The tennis team has won the division 25 years in a row. “In the beginning I didn’t know squat about coaching. I had great help from other coaches. That mentoring made a lot of difference,” said Kendall. “The internet has also helped. I can get the latest up-to-date information and put it into practice.”
“I have good kids to work with,” said Kendall. “They have really bought into the program over the years. The administration has always backed me and all the coaches. They go above and beyond.”
“The team has placed second in the state six or seven times including this past season. For some reason first place just eludes me,” said Kendall. He said that he actually resigned as coach a couple of years ago but two weeks before the season began there still was no one to coach. “I didn’t want just anyone to take it because they had to, so I said I’d do it that year,” said Kendall. That year turned into last year and Kendall says he is just taking it year by year now.
Last season the team was 21 members strong so Kendall had three assistants. “Kallie Madler, Margaret Uecker and Kyli Gentilini were incredible assets to the team and each of them are good coaches in their own right,” said Kendall.
When Kendall accepted the award, the MCA gave his wife, Raenette, a certificate for Spouse of the Year. “Of course I couldn’t do this without her support. She jokes that come every January she’ll be a tennis widow,” said Kendall. That’s when he starts preparing for the March through May season.
Kendall also says he cannot separate his coaching from his faith in God and prays for his team. His Coach of the Year ring has the inscription “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust” from Psalm 25:1.
“It’s definitely an honor to be voted Coach of the Year,” said Kendall. “I really appreciate it.”