Brenny Kinnane: Rise of lax

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By Andrew Cahill

Brenny Kinnane ‘11 is very happy to have landed in Schenectady almost four years ago. The decision for the Little Compton, Rhode Island native was made confidently, for he was particularly swayed by the positive reviews that a neighborhood Union alum provided him. Kinnane was excited by the opportunity to attend an excellent college, while also having the chance to play college lacrosse and help awaken a struggling Union Dutchmen program.

On the way to Union, Kinnane first made the jump a half hour north of Little Compton to the Portsmouth Abbey School for his high school years and suited up for the Ravens lacrosse team. It was during this period where Kinnane began to put his lacrosse game together, particularly with the aid of Portsmouth Abbey coach Alfred Brown. Kinnane has credited Brown in helping him improve and be able to play in college as he stated, “He was the one who put Union on the map for me.” Brown had played in college and knew Union head coach Paul Wehrum.

Just before Kinnane set out on finishing his high school career and deciding on a college, Wehrum had been hired at Union. Wehrum would seek to build a foundation for Union lacrosse beginning with high school seniors in the class of 2007, of which Kinnane was a part. Ultimately Kinnane came to Union as a piece of Wehrum’s inaugural recruiting class, the immediate result of which was around 20 freshmen on the 2008 lacrosse team. Despite the relative inexperience of playing college lacrosse on the team, they finished 12-5, having lost in the Liberty League Championship game to St. Lawrence.

Fast-forward to spring 2011 and Kinnane still remembers that defeat his freshman year. Only four of those 22 freshmen in 2008 remain on the current team now as seniors: Kinnane, Derek Witheford, Sam Kenyon, and Derek Mayer. It is not to suggest anything negative about the freshmen from the 2008 team who no longer are on the roster, as instead it shows the influx of talent that has been brought into the fold each year and contributed.

Kinnane, the team’s leading scorer with 41 points was recently honored to the Liberty League Second Team, while Witheford was named to the Liberty League First Team along with standout goalie Sean Aaron ‘12.  Kenyon and Mayer respectively were named Honorable Mention Liberty League performers. Each member along with the succeeding classes has helped lay the foundation for a successful lacrosse program at Union, as Kinnane notes, “during the past few years, we have stepped the program up.”

While Kinnane’s first three years on the team brought about solid results, he stated that “Every year we have two goals: the first is to make the playoffs and the second is to win the Liberty League.” Kinnane and the rest of the Dutchmen will not be satisfied until they win the Liberty League Championship. At the time of the interview, the Dutchmen were preparing for a Sunday matinee rematch with RPI for the rights to the league title and an NCAA Division III Tournament berth. Consider it a mission accomplished as the Dutchmen defeated the Engineers 8-7 in double overtime, as midfielder Nick Alfonzetti ‘12 clinched the inaugural NCAA tournament bid for Dutchmen lacrosse with a goal early in the second extra frame.  The Dutchmen headed westbound on the Thruway yesterday to take on the Nazareth College Golden Flyers in Rochester.

Even though Kinnane will be graduating as one of the key pieces in helping Union lacrosse achieve success, he asserted, “the program will continue to rise in the future. I feel lucky to be part of the foundation and look forward to seeing it carried on to the next level. Kinnane is a true team player and has certainly along with his fellow seniors in the class of 2011, raised the bar of success for Dutchmen lacrosse.

This summer, Kinnane will look to help bring about success in a whole new place, 7000 miles from Schenectady, in southern Uganda. Kinnane was selected as a Minerva Fellow to work in a Ugandan village for about a year, where he will teach English and Math. Kinnane stated that it is his goal to “look to help the community in any way that I can.”

While his lacrosse career may be nearing its end, Kinnane will certainly be busy in hoping to leave his mark in improving Uganda just as he helped to improve the standing of Union lacrosse. Once he returns from Uganda, Kinnane hopes to continue to teach and eventually become a social entrepreneur in “starting a company with a philanthropic aspect.”

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