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June 2, 2020

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Senior salute: Athletics a family affair for Skyview’s Cody McKinney

High schools: Tim Martinez

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published:
6 Photos
Skyview High School teacher and soccer coach Colleen McKinney and her son, senior Cody McKinney, right, are pictured at their home in Vancouver on Friday, May 8, 2020.
Skyview High School teacher and soccer coach Colleen McKinney and her son, senior Cody McKinney, right, are pictured at their home in Vancouver on Friday, May 8, 2020. (Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Cody McKinney has lost a lot this spring.

He lost his senior season with the Skyview High School boys soccer team, a season he believed would be a big one for the Storm.

He also lost the one last season of competitive sports.

But perhaps most painfully, he lost one final season with his mom as his coach.

“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had my mom as a coach multiple times,” Cody said of his mom, Colleen McKinney, Skyview’s varsity boys soccer coach. “We were looking forward to this last senior season, my last hurrah, with all my friends I grew up playing soccer with for like the past 10 years. We were really excited for this season, and it was crazy how it all ended. It was kind of sad to watch all the hard work we put in, during the offseason, and we were looking forward to having one of our best seasons ever. It’s kind of heartbreaking for everybody.”

And even more true for Mom.

“I miss being out there with Cody, getting that one last picture together on the field,” Colleen McKinney said. “There have been a few tears over that, particularly from my end.”

Colleen McKinney, a Division I soccer player at Washington State in her college days, has been coaching high school soccer in Vancouver for more than 15 years. She started coaching the Columbia River girls, leading the Chieftains to their first state title in 2009.

Senior Salute

Each week through June, Tim Martinez will spotlight a different high school senior athlete.

If you know of a senior who deserves some attention, send it to tim.martinez@columbian.com or send a direct message on Twitter to @360TMart.

In 2011-12, she moved to Skyview and began coaching JV boys, mostly because the spring season fit better with her schedule as a parent and a teacher.

“I’m a teacher, and you have boys and girls who you teach,” Colleen McKinney said. “It’s the same on the field. I just want to pass along my knowledge to the kids. So when you come in with that point of few, the sex of the coach doesn’t matter. It only matters if people want to make it matter.”

It never mattered to the Skyview boys, Cody said.

“I really don’t think of it that much,” Cody said. “The only time you even notice it is when you play another team we haven’t played before you see the other team’s reaction when they see she’s our coach. But to us, it’s not weird at all. We’ve loved having her as a coach, and I think any of the guys would say that if you asked them.”

Women coaching boys is nothing new at Skyview. Jenn Johnson was the Storm’s boys soccer coach in 2012 when Skyview won the 4A state championship. That was Colleen’s first season with the program.

Colleen was Cody’s JV coach during his freshman year. She became the varsity boys coach his sophomore year, leading the Storm to back-to-back league titles.

Cody said he’s had a love/hate relationship playing for his mom.

“I love how she pushes me to better, and I know how to work with her,” Cody said. “But I hate getting yelled at. She’s a pretty intense coach. There have been multiple times when I’ve said something dumb and then had to run laps around the track.

“But she’s always made me a better player, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. It’s been a great experience, and she’s a great coach for our team.”

Athletics have always been a part of the McKinney household. Cody’s older brother Jackson was an All-Region wrestler at Skyview and continues to compete at Oregon State.

“My brother has always been a driver for me, help inspire me,” Cody said. “He’ll lift weights with me and teach me how to do things. He always keeps my head right. I could always call him for advice, too.”

Unlike his brother, Cody was drawn more to soccer and basketball, even if that sometimes made life hectic.

“It’s always been hard because they often overlap in the (high school) offseason,” Cody said. “There were times I would go from a basketball game to a soccer game and right back to another basketball game. It was kind of a runaround. But I loved it, so it was worth it to me.”

At Skyview, he even dabbled in football, serving as one of the Storm’s kickers his junior year with soccer teammate Evan Saftich.

“Me and Evan were lifting weights at school when we started talking to” football coach Steve Kizer, Cody said. “We had been watching the games and seeing that their kicker was struggling. So we started the conversation of ‘Hey, we can kick for you.” … And that turned out to be a super fun experience.”

Cody didn’t play football his senior season because he wanted to get an early start with his teammates preparing for the basketball season.

As the Storm’s defensive stopper, often drawing the opponent’s biggest or best player, Cody McKinney helped Skyview reach the 4A state quarterfinals at the Tacoma Dome.

“My basketball experience this year was everything I could ask for,” Cody said. “Our team, we worked out together and we pushed each other as a team as much as we could. Our outcome was good, even though it wasn’t what we wanted to be. We came together as a team, and I learned so much about life and basketball. The state tournament was one of the coolest experiences that anyone could have.”

Soccer was a sport that Colleen McKinney never pressured her sons to play simply because she played and later coached.

“So every time Cody kept wanting to play soccer, I’d be ‘OK, you’re sure?’ ” Colleen said. “You don’t want to put that pressure on your kid. It was something that was important to me — to make sure it was something he wanted to do. I think I started to annoy him after a while that I’d keep asking him that question. He’d be ‘Mom, I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t want to do it.’ ”

This lost final soccer season takes added significance because it was to be Cody’s last as a competitive player. A Running Start student, Cody will enroll at Washington State in the fall and study construction management.

“I had put a lot of thought into it, because I received a lot of messages” from college coaches, Cody said. “I could have gone with a smaller school for sports, but I never fully committed myself to that idea because, academically, I wanted to have a good future and find the right school where I could do that.”

Colleen added: “This would have been (Cody’s) last bow under the lights, but it’s that way for a lot of kids. Cody’s story is a reflection of so many others. But you hope he’s built up enough memories and he can look back and define what has been great. And it’s true of all eight of these (senior) boys. They built up a tradition of success at Skyview … And that’s a gift that they might not recognize right away, but will later.”

Still, Colleen McKinney witnessed firsthand the emotion of a parent coaching a child one last time when watching Matt Gruhler and his son Kyle at the end of the basketball season.

And now she’s lost sharing a similar moment with her son in soccer.

“I never intended to end up coaching my own children when I got into coaching,” she said. “And I didn’t realize how much it would mean to me in the end.”

Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editor/prep editor for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4538, tim.martinez@columbian.com or follow his Twitter handle @360TMart.

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