Originally published June 27, 2013.
When Debbie Foust filled out a registration form so that one of her sons could play basketball in the Kim League at the YMCA in Huntington, she noted that her husband, Kenny, could serve as a helper if the team needed one.
That was 35 years ago, and Kenny Foust has been involved with youth sports in Huntington ever since.
Foust, 65, has coached T-Ball, Coaches Pitch and Little League at the Police Athletic League (PAL) in Huntington over that span of time, and he's been a fixture on the PAL football sidelines for nearly as long.
Aside from coaching basketball in the YMCA's Kim League, he's coached hoops at The Salvation Army and, for the last 18 years, he's helped coach the Crestview Middle School boys' eighth grade team.
Like most parents, Foust got into coaching when his kids started playing sports. However, unlike most parents, he stuck with it once his kids grew up.
Foust attributes this to the insistence of his players' parents.
"I've had younger kids on my team and families say, ‘Hey! You can't quit coaching! You have to coach until my kid gets done with it.'"
Also, he muses, "I guess I got it in my bloodstream, doing this, and couldn't get it out."
One of the most consistent challenges presented by coaching, Foust says, is taking a group of players at different ability levels and molding them into a team.
But, he adds, "That's one of the rewarding things, is how they develop, get a little bit better and also how they develop as far as teammates."
Over the years, Foust has developed a coaching style.
"I can get animated sometimes," he says. "I do a lot of talking."
For as many tips and pointers as he dispenses, though, he makes sure his players never lose sight of one thing.
"You got to have some fun, too," he notes.
Foust says some of the most fun he's had coaching came in the 1980s while leading a PAL Little League team.
"I think in five years we only lost four games," he says proudly.
"Everybody, after a while, they got tired of seeing us win."
Foust's trophy collection is extensive, containing hardware from every decade he's coached.
Foust has coached for so long, in fact, that teams today are now populated by the kids of kids he once coached.
"Now I'm on my second generation of kids," he says.
And members from the first generation have swapped their playing gear for clipboards and joined Foust in the coaching ranks.
"There's several of them out there right now in T-Ball and Coaches Pitch that I've coached that have taken it over and that's nice to see," he says.
Foust has found that the bonds he formed with those former players years ago have stood the test of time.
"Twenty-five to 30 years later when they see you and they still speak to you and call you coach, you feel kind of good about that," he says.
Relationships have been at the heart of Foust's coaching career. He admires all the mothers and fathers who have stepped up to help him out with teams over the years.
Additionally, he has high praise for Dave Canady, whom he's coached with at Crestview for nearly two decades, and Lee Double, his longtime assistant at the PAL.
"He's been helping me coach for quite a number of years," Foust says of Double.
"When you have good people like that, it makes it a lot easier."
Coaching is also something that's drawn Foust's family close.
"As far as the PAL program, our whole family's been involved in it," he says. "My wife, Debbie, she ran the concession stand out there for about 10 years. My daughter and boys, when they got older, they helped there, too. We've been involved in the PAL for quite a while."
His sons have become coaches as well.
"My youngest son (Jeff) coaches with me. My oldest boy (Shane), he's helped me the last few years in football and he helped coach a few years in baseball," Foust notes.
Foust currently coaches Little League at the PAL and plans on coaching his football team, the Raiders, there again this fall, with basketball at Crestview to follow in the winter.
He says he has no plans to hang up his whistle, stating he'll coach, "as long as I'm healthy."
Ultimately, the key to Foust's longevity as a coach traces back to the person who got him involved with it in the first place.
"To do it this long, you have to have a good wife," he says. "Because, like I said, I guess I'm one of the oddball ones because when my kids got too old to play, I stayed with it."