Kristy Kane’s tenure at Rosary ended sooner than she envisioned, but the soft-spoken coach’s team made a loud statement for her on the way out.
The Royals upended defending 2A state champion St. Francis in their regular-season finale to win the Suburban Christian Conference, and went on to win a Class 2A regional championship, earning the second-year varsity coach Kane County Chronicle Coach of the Year honors on her way out the door.
Kane was not asked back in her English teaching position at the school, contributing to an emotionally charged backdrop to the end of the season. The death of former Rosary assistant coach Peter Eastwood, who passed away in early May, also became emotional ammunition for the Royals as the season wound down.
Rosary senior Taylor Gibson, who lauded Kane’s influence both in the classroom and on the soccer field, recalled how gratifying it was to see Kane celebrate after Rosary’s double-overtime win against Kaneland to win the IHSA Class 2A Rochelle Regional championship.
“She was beaming,” Gibson said. “I can’t even describe it. … That just made it all worth it because we knew we were playing for two of the best coaches that we’ve ever played for.”
Kane’s cool, level-headed approach might have kept the Royals from unraveling during that regional final, when Rosary surrendered a 1-0 lead with only 1:20 left in regulation, sending the match to overtime.
A Quincy Kellett goal earned the Royals the regional title in double OT, and an eventual date in the Freeport Sectional semifinals against Prairie Ridge, which ended Rosary’s season. Kellett said Kane did most of her hands-on coaching at practices and during halftime, maintaining a calming influence during play.
Given that Rosary was smaller than most of its opponents, Kane preached a finesse brand of soccer based on speed and precise passing. She said the Royals didn’t want to “get into those physical battles because we knew we probably wouldn’t win if we had to play games that way.”
The continued development of young standouts such as defender Maria Witte and Kellett – both sophomores – was among the highlights of the season for Kane.
“With last year, I think the play of some of those strong freshmen kind of surprised teams,” Kane said. “We had that advantage last year, and this year, helping those girls to still be successful even though other teams were more aware of them [was a challenge].”
Kane spent the initial stages of the summer working toward lining up a new teaching position that she hoped would allow her to continue her soccer coaching career. Her final Rosary team went 15-4-3, giving Kane a 33-10-3 mark for her two varsity seasons, both of which included regional titles.
Kane retains a strong relationship with longtime Rosary athletic director Mary Lou Kunold, who said she would have liked to retain Kane if she had her druthers. But Kane instead will seek to apply the coaching lessons she learned at Rosary elsewhere.
“Even though we wanted to work hard and be successful, you still have to allow them to have fun and enjoy playing because when you take that away, they’re not going to achieve,” Kane said.