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home : sports & recreation : sports & recreation September 26, 2017

10/27/2015 1:23:00 PM
Sisters man is a Hall-of-Famer
Violette, Olivia, and Teague were on hand to see their dad, Ross Kennedy, inducted into the SOU Hall of Fame. photo by Jeremy Storton
+ click to enlarge
Violette, Olivia, and Teague were on hand to see their dad, Ross Kennedy, inducted into the SOU Hall of Fame. photo by Jeremy Storton

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

Ross Kennedy was inducted into the Southern Oregon University sports hall of fame last weekend.

A standout track-and-field athlete in the mid-1990s, Kennedy is now a real estate agent and family man in Sisters. He says he still benefits from the dedication and discipline he learned as a college athlete.

"It taught me to goal-set and go after my goals and my dreams, and I do that today," he said. "I plan out my goals and work diligently to accomplish them."

As a Southern Oregon University Raider 1994-97, Kennedy was one of five Raiders to record a pair of top-two finishes in the NAIA Outdoor Championships. His school-record score in the decathlon of 7,418 points was second in 1997 and would have been good for a NAIA championship in all but one other year since 1996. He was a four-time Cascade Conference champion, winning three straight decathlon titles and one in the javelin, and he ranks high in the record books in high jump and broad jump.

"It was the first time I'd ever focused that intently on perfecting my sport," Kennedy said.

During his senior year, everything was oriented toward peak performance - his diet, meditation, stretching.

"My senior year, I didn't miss a workout the entire year," he said.

Kennedy acknowledges that it wasn't always a smooth path to outstanding athletic achievement.

"I actually got kicked off the team because I was on and off academic probation," he recalled.

Adrift in a major that didn't fit him, his performance in the classroom was less than stellar. His coach, Monty Cartwright, kicked him off the team and pulled his scholarship and told him to drop out of college because he was wasting everybody's time. That might have been a slap in the face, but Ross used it to fuel his fire. He switched majors from biology to exercise science, which kickstarted him academically. The next term he pulled a 3.75 GPA and finished school with a cumulative 3.3 GPA.

"I'm so thankful for that wakeup call," he said. "It showed me I was going to have to work, how important school was scholastically."

Cartwright drove down to Ashland from Portland to be part of the induction ceremonies.

"It was awesome to shake his hand, give him a hug and just thank him and let him know that he was a huge influence on my life," Kennedy said.

The five inductees mingled at an event on Friday evening, then gathered for the induction ceremony and breakfast on Saturday morning. All the new inductees were recognized at halftime during Saturday's Southern Oregon University football game.

"Being associated with the other hall-of-famers is a huge honor," Kennedy said.

He was also delighted to get to see old teammates and coaches who turned out for the event.

Kennedy's mother, his children, and his father-in-law John Keenan were also in attendance.

"It was really cool that my kids got to be there, for them to see what I did," Kennedy said.

The discipline and direction he learned in his hall-of-fame athletic career is an example of what sports can do for a young person in setting them up for success in life. Kennedy reflected on those lessons learned.

"I'd say to young people, don't be afraid to set the bar high and work to go after it."

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