By all accounts, Kenny Kline was a smart, kind and considerate 18-year-old with his whole life ahead of him.
The former football player at Northeast High School was heavily involved in his Rhawnhurst community and had plans of becoming a police officer. However, tragedy struck in March 2011 when Kline was killed in a motorcycle accident in Castor Gardens.
The accident broke the hearts of all those who knew Kline, who loved football and country music so much that he had a tattoo that read “The Boys of Fall” in honor of his favorite sport and hit song of his favorite musician, country star Kenny Chesney.
Last Sunday was a reminder to an entire community how much Kline touched so many in his short time here, as the 2nd annual Kenny Kline Boys of Fall Football Clinic was held at the Pelbano Recreation Center in Rhawnhurst. Over 250 kids aged eight to 16 were on hand for the free camp, which included instruction from coaches and players from Northeast, as well as other area schools Father Judge, Archbishop Ryan and George Washington. Archbishop Wood, St. Joseph’s Prep, La Sale, Roman Catholic, West Catholic, Council Rock South and Neshaminy also sent representatives to participate, as did colleges such as Temple, Ohio State, Penn State, Delaware, Kutztown, Stony Brook, Delaware Valley, Shippensburg and Colgate.
With over 100 volunteers and 60-plus high school and college players and coaches involved from multiple states, the Boys of Fall Clinic was further proof at how big of an influence Kline had on so many. Not everybody in attendance knew him personally, but that didn’t stop them from coming out to support a good cause.
“I didn’t know Kenny myself, but I can speak to how special the bond is between football coach and player,” said Archbishop Ryan football coach Frank McArdle, who lent his services for the day. “Everybody that came, especially those that didn’t know Kenny, respect that close bond; I know at Ryan we would hate to tragically lose one of our own, and I think it’s wonderful that this young man had such a major influence to attract so many people to honor his memory.”
One of the main architects of the event was Ed Trampe, a football coach at Rhawnhurst Athletic Association who knew Kline personally. The clinic, which was sponsored by the Champions Foundation in partnership with the Kenny Kline Foundation and Rhawnhurst A.A., was such a success that there’s already talk of turning it into a two-day event as early as next summer.
“Kenny was an amazing kid that did everything right and lived his life the way everybody should,” Trampe said. “Nobody ever had anything bad to say about him, and he was just one of those guys that everybody loved to be around. It really was a great day, and we hope that it will continue to honor Kenny’s spirit and legacy.”
The clinic was completely free to all participants, something that Trampe and the Kline Family were insistent upon. Donors and various sponsors, including Modell’s Sporting Goods, contributed to the event.
“I spoke extensively with his family, and we all agreed that because of the association with kids that no money should be changing hands,” Trampe said. “Kenny loved football so much, and we didn’t want the day to be about money, especially in this economy. We wanted it to be a fun day where kids could get football instruction from a lot of different people, and that’s exactly what happened.”
And although the clinic participants got a ton of specialized teaching from a plethora of high school and college players and coaches, the day wasn’t just about football. It was about keeping Kline’s legacy alive, as the best way to honor the fallen is to remember them through the things they loved so much.
“I didn’t know Kenny myself, but I’ve been coaching high school football for ten years and I know how close I still am with some of those guys,” said Father Judge assistant coach Fran Costello. “From everything Eddie (Trampe) told me about Kenny, he loved to help kids and he was doing everything the right way on and off the field, and that’s the lesson we try to teach at Judge.
“An event like this, it’s about so much more than just improving your football skills,” he continued. “It’s about teaching these kids how to act the right way and give back whenever they can. As coaches, it’s our responsibility when we have these kids under our care to teach them life-long lessons, from kids in fifth grade all the way up to high school.”
Trampe told a story about Rushawn Grange, a freshman on the Northeast football team that lives past Frankford High School. On the day of Kline’s viewing, Grange had to take three buses to get to the funeral service that took over two hours. After Grange got off the third bus, he walked several blocks in the pouring rain in order to be there to honor Kline.
“Kenny was one of our own,” Trampe said. “He spread so much cheer and positive feelings to everyone around him, and everyone he encountered was touched by this special young man. One tragic accident took him from us, and now it’s about how we remember him.” ••
Sports editor Ed Morrone can be reached at 215-354-3035 or firstname.lastname@example.org.