BY KEN MORSE
Before Ryan Kinne took over for his former coach Art Nunes, he was already making a whole lot of noise on the soccer field. He was the Connecticut High School Player of the Year, scoring 31 goals during his senior season in 2006.
“The Naugatuck soccer program has been for a long time one of the most elite in the state,” said Kinne. “I knew I had some big shoes to fill, but I had an awful lot of confidence in the Naugatuck Youth Soccer Association. For many years they would send kids through the organization onto the high school level and the success continued.”
After graduating from Naugatuck in 2007, Kinne went on to star at Monmouth University, where he was a two-time All-American and was twice nominated for the Hermann Trophy, equivalent to the college football Heisman Trophy. That earned the Naugy local favorite a shot at the pros. Kinne was a third round draft pick by the New England Revolution of the Major League Soccer Association in 2011 and later played in the Untied Soccer league in 2013 for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
“I was honored to be the one called on to take over the program from coach Nunes,” said Kinne. “Naugatuck is a rich soccer town and I didn’t have any concerns that we wouldn’t continue to be successful. I just tried to keep the program moving forward and to put my own stamp on it.”
When it came time for Kinne to settle down, he came home and married Alice Levinsky, the three-time All-State softball player from Woodland, and they began a family.
Just before the nuptials in 2016, Kinne completed his first season on the sidelines after taking over for Nunes, who had stepped down after 21 years, 14 NVL titles and two state championships, compiling a 331-50-22 record.
“That first season was phenomenal,” said Kinne. “We breezed through the NVL tournament to win the league for the fourth year in a row. Then we had a hiccup against Fairfield Prep. We used that as inspiration and got right after it again winning the NVL for the fifth time in a row and then getting past some tough teams to reach the state championship game for the first time in over 20 years. The way the town of Naugatuck showed up to support us was something I will always remember.”
Kinne was at the helm for the past six years and compiled an 81-18-13 mark with three NVL titles to go along with the 2017 Class LL runner-up. Jose Sendra, who has served as the boys assistant coach, will take over the reigns of the team. Sendra is the former girls soccer coach and currently leads the girls tennis team.
“There is a lot that went into this decision,” said Kinne. “Obviously family is a big part of it. My wife has been very supportive of me doing this but now our family is growing and my son is now playing and I don’t want to miss any of that. It wasn’t an easy decision by any means and maybe some day I will get back into it. But for now I want to enjoy my family. Coaching takes a huge commitment and if I couldn’t give it 100% then it was time for someone else to take over and Jose has a great background and the players are very familiar with him already.”
Kinne continued: “It was a fantastic ride and I will miss the games under the lights and playing for an NVL title down at Municipal Stadium. I will come see some games every now and again but I’m really looking forward to seeing my son play and enjoying time with my family.”
BY KEN MORSE