TEWKSBURY — There’s an old description in the proverbial book, someone “eats, sleeps, and breaths” something.
When you meet Brian Kearney, you can 100 percent put the “eats, sleeps, and breaths” tag on him.
Kearney eats, sleeps, and breaths football.
“When I think about passion for the game of football, I think of Brian,” said Tewksbury Youth Football League President Rich Russo. “He takes his role as a head coach very seriously. He is always a coach in our league who sets the bar high and is a great example for our other coaches. He has a way of taking a team of football players and transforming them into something better and bigger than their individual selves. That to me is why TYF continues to want to work with the likes of Brian.”
Kearney has been coaching youth sports in Tewksbury since 2011. Of those nine years, football has been in his blood for the last seven.
“Of all the sports, football is number one,” said Kearney.
Kearney played youth football in Woburn, and then went on to play for Woburn High School under the late legendary coach Rocky Nelson.
At a young age, one of Brian’s son’s played flag football on the Livingston Street fields in Tewksbury. Kearney said he would come to the games often, and would hang around with some of the parents, like any typical dad would do on a Saturday morning.
One game, he introduced himself to Rob Rosa, who was President of Tewksbury Youth Football at the time.
“I knew some of kids through other sports and their parents,” Kearney said. “Next thing I know I have a whistle around my neck when my kid was picked for the blue team.”
He moved up the ranks of coaching, starting with the second, third, and fourth grades over the course of three years.
Then over the following three years, Kearney coached the fifth and sixth grade teams. This year, he jumped over seventh grade to coach the eighth graders, previously coached by Carmen Zullo, who was in the TYF program for 20 years.
A total of 32 kids make up this year’s roster, and Kearney has coached every kid on the team one way or another over the years.
“I’m back this year because I think this particular group didn’t get their fair end of an opportunity last year as seventh graders,” he said.
Games on Saturday last roughly 45 minutes, and an average play lasts six or seven seconds. Kearney has one message for his kids.
“I want them to make sure they are getting the most out of the opportunity to play football, and play every down like it’s your last, every down counts,” he said.
Kearney also wants to instill intensity, conditioning, and organizational discipline amongst his team, pieces he took from Redmen coach Brian Aylward’s playbook when he attended high school practices.
“Every week I sit at my computer with a blank Microsoft Excel Sheet, and I come up [with a plan] and a new word of the day.”
Kearney also expects a lot out of his assistant coaches. “The first thing I say to any assistant coach [on my staff], is if you can come down and devote two hours [to football], and if you can work together unified, you’ll be solid,” said Kearney.
The eighth grade team recently lost to Clinton 14-13 for the first game of the year, a game that Kearney says could’ve been better in all aspects of the game.
“We’re going to have disagreements, but we will solve the problem, and do what’s [best for the team] so it doesn’t happen again next week,” he said.
When he isn’t with his football family, Kearney works as a construction manager for projects on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston.
Kearney went on to say that he would love to coach football forever and move up in the ranks.
“As long as [my daughter is okay with it and] my wife wants to give up alone time,” Kearney said laughing.