By John DeCoste
Kevin Veinot leads a busy life, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
His professional colleagues know Veinot as the principal of Northeast Kings Education Centre, but the past several generations of young Kings County athletes likely know him better as a basketball coach. It’s a job he’s held for more than 25 years now, at a variety of levels.
To his three active and athletic children – Jennika and twins Jayda and Keevan – Veinot is “dad” or “coach” and often both. He and his wife, Jennifer, also a basketball coach, make a formidable team.
Jennifer also teaches at NKEC, but the family lives in Port Williams and the Veinot children attend Horton. Kevin said it was “a conscious decision” not to teach, or to be an administrator, at the school his children attend.
“I had an opportunity for the principalship at Horton, but I never applied. I’m at NKEC because I want to be. It’s a great school, and there was great leadership already here before I came.”
As principal, he explained, Veinot can take some of the skills he obtained as a teacher and pass them along to the rest of the staff.
Coaching a second career
“I always planned to be a coach. My first coaching job was in 1987, in my third year at Acadia,” he said. During a year away from the court due to illness, he was an assistant to Axemen coach Dave Nutbrown.
When he started teaching at Central Kings, he coached boys’ basketball there, first the JVs and then the senior team, and both of them one year, which was “pretty exhausting,” he said.
While at CK, Richard Foot, his wife Jennifer, and Veinot started Kings Minor Basketball as a feeder system for Central Kings. Along with Carter Creaser, they developed it into a successful program that continues today.
“When the kids came along, as they grew, they became basketball players by design,” Veinot said of his own children. “We started a ‘Below the Rim’ program 11 years ago at Port Williams Elementary, once our kids were old enough to play. That program is still successful, too.”
The past several years, both Veinots have been active with the Valley Heat program, and, by extension, with Acadia Minor Basketball.
In 2006, Veinot was asked by Les Berry to again become an assistant coach at Acadia, a position he still holds, with responsibility for developing the Axemen post players.
“I had been disenchanted with Acadia for a few years, but Les talked me into coming back. Steve (Baur) took over when Les had a change of career and I continued with him. I like Steve as a person, and I like how he coaches.”
A couple of years ago, with an eye to their children moving on to Horton, both Veinot and his wife signed on to coach the Griffins. Currently, Veinot coaches the Horton boys with Jason Clark, while his wife coaches the Horton girls, along with Ian MacMillan.
Veinot said that no one ever spoke to him personally, he had heard there were concerns in the NKEC community that the principal was coaching elsewhere.
“If I was asked, my answer would be, my family is there, and for me, my family comes before my job. I coached at Port Williams and at EMS while I was principal at NKEC, and no one had a problem with that,” he said.
“To me, it’s never been a concern. You coach your children, and you coach your children’s friends (regardless of the level). You’re inputting, positively, the lives of your children and their friends.”
‘Not a lot of down time’
The Veinots’ life is “a huge juggling act.” On a typical day, the family hits the ground running at 6:15 a.m. and most nights, Kevin’s last practice is between 8 and 9 p.m. If the team’s on the road, it can be even later. In a typical week, Jennifer is doing the same thing.
“There’s not a lot of down time in our house.”
The bonus has been watching their children grow, usually on a basketball court, and be part of the process.
“Jen and I have three very fortunate kids, who are strong both athletically and academically,” he said.
“They enjoy school, and the work that’s involved and they realize that, because of their busy schedules, they have to practice time management. They’ve been able to balance studies and extracurricular activities, of which sport plays a big part.”
They learned those skills from good teachers.
“I feel I’m a very organized person,” he says. “I always try to be proactive and be ahead of deadlines, thanks to good time management skills, lots of energy and teamwork.”
It’s a busy life, but he has no plans to stop anytime soon, or at least as long as Jayda and Keevan, now in Grade 9, are at Horton.
“I wouldn’t trade it for the world, because I have the world with our children.”