Bremerton coach Joe Kennedy standing up by taking a knee

Mar 15, 2023, 3:49 PM | Updated: 3:51 pm
Coach Joe Kennedy...
FILE - Bremerton High assistant football coach Joe Kennedy, front, walks off the field with his lawyer, right, Oct. 16, 2015, after praying at the 50-yard line following a football game in Bremerton, Wash. (Lindsey Wasson/The Seattle Times via AP, File)
(Lindsey Wasson/The Seattle Times via AP, File)

Bremerton High School football coach Joe Kennedy believes he has been “reinstated” Wednesday after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled he had a right to pray on the field. His return ends an eight-year odyssey.

Kennedy said some final details need to be worked out, but he will be ready when spring football begins.

“I’ll be there whenever the head coach needs me there,” Kennedy explained.

Wednesday is the day the court order said that Bremerton High must reinstate Kennedy. He said he’s filled out the required “human resources” paperwork, is in conversation with coaches, and the district confirms he will be an assistant football coach for Bremerton High School for the 2023 season.

A touch of spring is coming Friday to the Puget Sound region

He said spring football practice usually begins in May and he said he is pretty nervous.

“I don’t feel like I missed the step as far as training young men to be better young men and getting the most out of them. That should be 100% natural,” Kennedy said. “It’s just all the unknowns of stepping back where you’re in the public eye and just hoping everybody will, everything will fade really quickly. And everybody can just move on to what’s going on with the football season.”

The coach tells KIRO Newsradio he does not plan to attend Thursday’s school board meeting, where the group is expected to approve a settlement over attorneys fees he accrued over the long court battle.

In 2015, Kennedy claimed the district violated his first amendment rights when it told him to cease praying on the 50-yard line after games. His contract with the school was not renewed the following year.

Last year, in a 6-to-3 ruling, the high court’s conservative majority ruled that Kennedy’s prayers were a private matter and did not amount to the public school’s endorsement of religion.

Kennedy told KIRO Newsradio he does plan to pray on the 50-yard line during games this season.

“I’m just going to continue to do what I’ve always been doing,” Kennedy said.

There is a book and film coming out soon about the events surrounding Kennedy’s departure. How that will impact his future at the school after the 2023-24 season is something he is not sure of.

“I’m just going to go where God’s going to lead me,” he said.

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Bremerton coach Joe Kennedy standing up by taking a knee