The grass is always greener on the other side. That is a metaphor most of us have heard, yet one that has been questioned.
On Friday afternoon, Keene Swamp Bats new head coach Shaun McKenna walked the golf course in Homestead, Fla. There was plenty of green surrounding him in a state where he resided for 11 years while he was out of baseball.
Right now, most can hope the legitimacy behind that metaphor isn’t to be disputed as daily lives have been flipped upside down globally with the rapidly spreading coronavirus.
“Obviously I’m a baseball junkie and I’m just chomping at the bit to get back out there,” McKenna said. “So, I said I had to get out for a little while, so I just came down here for a little bit to get away. It’s an unfortunate thing, but it’s definitely a concerning global thing that’s going on. It’s scary.”
With the Swamp Bats season still currently on track to start on schedule, McKenna will look to continue the winning ways, which resulted in an NECBL championship last season.
“I’ve developed relationships in the Keene community going back to my first years there,” McKenna said. “To have the Keene Swamp Bats organization and Kevin Watterson to trust in me to take over the program, especially coming off winning the championship last year, and to be asked to be the guy that stays on and takes it over as the head guy, I’m flattered, I really am.”
McKenna has also won a championship in the Virginia Beach Collegiate Baseball League serving as coach for the Virginia Beach Waves. The championship season was his second as coach of the Waves and first as director of the league. In the next season, McKenna guided Virginia Beach back to the championship but that resulted in a runner-up finish. He played a vital role in building up the league as director. McKenna has also coached in the Perfect Game Collegiate League in New York.
McKenna won as a player, too. He was part of the University of Southern Maine team that won the first Little East Conference Championship and NCAA Division III Championship back in 1997.
Keene’s head coach last season, Gary Calhoun, has accepted a job with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks in the Cape Cod League for this upcoming summer. When McKenna was asked to take over Calhoun’s role, it didn’t take much thought to decide on the offer.
“It’s a small-town atmosphere that has actually grown over the years,” McKenna said. “When I played there as a player and coaching in 2004 and 2005, and to see how much it has grown over the years, it’s quite a place. The community gravitates towards the Swamp Bats, they love their baseball and all athletics in Keene. It’s a great place to be and it’s a great organization.”
Just under 20 years ago, McKenna hit his last collegiate home run for the University of Southern Maine Huskies, coming against Keene State.
With all the uncertainty surrounding the prospectus of this season, McKenna hopes the team gets the opportunity to play the season and have it result in yet another home run, this time in Keene’s favor.