Photo courtesy of Jarrett Guthrie from Kennedy Duran coaching at the annual Hillsborough vs Pinellas All-Star game.

It has been a year of firsts for brand-new Sumner High School, located in Riverview. The school has already started putting together their athletic program—from new facilities and new staff to new students. Former Lennard High School Baseball Head Coach Kennedy Duran was hired by the school at the end of last season to take over the baseball program.

Duran was the perfect fit for the Stingrays because of his prior experience. He launched the Lennard baseball program in 2006, where he remained for 14 years, building that program from the bottom up. The Longhorns had their best season under Duran in 2019, making it to the playoffs for the first time in school history.

The longtime Lennard head coach previously coached at Eastern University in Pennsylvania as the associate head coach. He has always had a love for the game that started during his upbringing. After having a successful high school baseball career and playing college ball at Division III Cortland State College in New York as a catcher, Duran wanted to get into coaching to share his knowledge and love of the game with the younger generation of players.

A man who puts family first, Duran, who will also teach PE at the school, said that one of the reasons he took the job was because his daughter will be attending the school next year.

“It just felt like it was the right time to make the change with her coming into ninth grade next year and with this opportunity being open; you don’t get those opportunities very often,” said Duran.

Duran is looking forward to the challenges that this opportunity will present.

“I already opened up a school, and I built a program from scratch,” said Duran. “It’s those learning curves that you hit and how you figure those out, not making the same mistakes that I have made before and learning from those mistakes, and embracing the growing pains that come with a new program.”

The number one thing that Duran pointed out as a major advantage from his prior experience at Lennard that he will bring to Sumner is patience. Patience from the players and parents will be crucial to help build a program. Duran said that the three pillars that his new program will be built on are trust, honesty and accountability.

He hopes the parents will trust him with their prized possessions and understand that the kids are getting a teacher first and foremost, and that the momentum created from the last few years at Lennard can carry on to Sumner as the kids are taught and brought along at the right pace.

“Rome wasn’t built in one day,” said Duran.

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.