It’s been eight years since high school assistant football coach Joe Kennedy was fired for leading prayers in the locker room and on the field. After winning a long legal battle and returning to the game, Kennedy felt like an “outsider” and resigned from coaching.
“The school district and this lawsuit took a lot of the joy out of coaching,” Kennedy told CBN News. “It took away just about everything that meant something to me.”
Praying Football Coach Joe Kennedy Resigns From Coaching, Effective Immediately
Kennedy is no longer an assistant football coach for Bremerton High School in Bremerton, Washington. In his resignation, the long-term coach mentioned various reasons, including caring for an older family member.
The assistant coach was fired by the school district for praying on the field and in the locker room, but he was reinstated as a coach after a Supreme Court ruling in 2022. Unfortunately, Kennedy found that things weren’t quite the same as he returned to the game.
During the first game, Kennedy was often seen by himself on the sidelines. “I feel like I’m kind of the outsider,” he told CBN News. “Like on enemy grounds, and I don’t like that feeling.”
“I believe I can best continue to advocate for constitutional freedom and religious liberty by working from outside the school system, so that is what I will do,” Kennedy said. “I will continue to work to help people understand and embrace the historic ruling at the heart of our case. As a result of our case, we all have more freedom, not less. That should be celebrated and not disrespected.”
The former assistant coach continued, “As I have demonstrated, we must make a stand for what we believe in. In my case, I made a stand to take a knee. I encourage all Americans to make their own stand for freedom and our right to express our faith as we see fit.”
Even with many people accepting Kennedy back to the team, he found things weren’t the same. “I appreciate the people of Bremerton, the coaches, staff, and especially the students, and wish them all well. Bremerton will always be home,” he concluded.
Kennedy and Bremerton School District Battled in the Courtroom for Several Years
When he started coaching football for Bremerton in 2008, Kennedy would kneel and pray on the 50-yard line following each game. More and more student-athletes joined their coach after the game to pray mid-field. Throughout his time coaching, Kennedy would often share motivational insights and pray with the football players in the locker room.
The school district ordered Kennedy to stop praying, and Kennedy did stop praying for a time. But he felt a sense of urgency to resume his post-game prayer on the field, inviting students to join him.
While Kennedy said he never forced players to pray with him, one anonymous player spoke up that he participated because he was concerned about losing playing time.