Kennedy Hires McKowen As New Basketball Coach

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

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By Grant Burkhardt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Jon McKowen always knew he was going to be a coach. That’s just kind of what his family does.

But he didn’t always know what sport he would coach.

He played about everything at Wapsie Valley High School, holds an Iowa prep football record for most touchdown receptions in a championship game (4) and played baseball in college before an arm injury foiled his career. After graduating from Upper Iowa University, he helped coach football at Jesup and was baseball and track coach at Cedar Falls NU High.

Tuesday morning, he officially was announced as Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s new boys’ basketball coach.

“I guess I kind of found out by trial and error,” McKowen said.

The 33-year-old comes back to Iowa after successful basketball stints at NU High and Ottawa High School in east-central Kansas, about 50 miles southwest of Kansas City. McKowen took Ottawa to the state tournament every year, made it to the Class 4A state championship game the past four years and won it all in 2013.

His best player was 6-foot-7 forward Semi Ojeleye, who has signed with Duke.

“We are really excited about coming home,” said McKowen. “From a family standpoint and from a comfort standpoint. I was born and raised on Iowa basketball. I was kind of thrown into Kansas basketball the past six years, and it was great to get a chance to be a part of it. But it’s time to get home.

“Kennedy is an absolutely great school. I think there have only been four head coaches since the school opened. I feel very fortunate and humbled by this opportunity. I’m excited to start the journey.”

Jon’s father, Marty, just completed his 30th basketball season at Wapsie Valley and won his 500th career game. His brother, Brooks, is Iowa’s all-time career scoring leader and an assistant coach at Division II Southwest Minnesota State.

His sister, Brittney, is the head girls’ basketball coach at Hudson High School. A hoops family, without question.

“About the middle of elementary school, I figured out coaching was what I wanted to do,” Jon McKowen said. “My heroes at Wapsie, they’d stop over to the house at Christmas to talk to my dad. They’d always call him. It was amazing to see how you could make connections like that as a coach. It’s become my passion, what I’m excited to wake up and do every day.”

McKowen replaces Bob Fontana, who is leaving Kennedy to be the first head coach at new Ankeny Centennial. McKowen and his wife, Jody, have three children: Trey, 6, Drew, 2, and Cade, 10 months.

“Coach McKowen believes passionately in his role as an educator to have a positive impact on all students he comes into contact with and develop them into leaders,” Kennedy Athletics Director Aaron Stecker said. “He will be an amazing fit at Kennedy High School. He is the total package – an educator.”

Iowa Prep Sports broke the story Monday afternoon, and Cedar Rapids Kennedy officially confirmed it Tuesday morning. Jon McKowen is the new head boys’ basketball coach at the school. He replaces Bob Fontana, who is headed to new Ankeny Centennial.

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