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Like Father, Like Son?: John and Kevin Goedeke Etch Their Names Into UMBC Athletics History in Different Sports
Photo courtesy of Chris Daly
Flash back to the late 1970’s: UMBC was in its infancy, but less than a decade into true intercollegiate competition, the Retrievers were already taking huge strides on the fields and the courts. The 1977 men’s soccer team was UMBC’s first team to compete in the NCAA Division II tournament, and the men’s lacrosse program earned its way into multiple NCAA tournaments from 1977-79. The men’s basketball program, led by a lean 6-foot-8 power forward from nearby
Flash forward to present day, where the same scenario is playing out. The men’s basketball and men’s lacrosse programs are making good runs into NCAA Tournament competition, although UMBC has moved to the Division I level. And the son of that power forward is leading his team to those heights. He also plays on a team that was ranked No. 6 in the nation as recently as last week.
But in the sport of men’s lacrosse.
John Goedeke is still the third-leading scorer in the history of the men’s basketball program at UMBC with 1,698 career points. He was an Academic All-American and a draft pick of the Atlanta Hawks in the spring of 1979. His younger son, Kevin, a 6-foot-4 defenseman, is a starter and key component of Don Zimmerman’s lacrosse squad, which has made three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and is currently ranked 10th in the nation.
Could the basketball star have ever imagined his son playing lacrosse at his alma mater?
“I wanted him to have fun playing whatever he wanted to play,” John said after UMBC’s recent victory at
Kevin and his older brother, John, did want to follow in their father’s large footprints, as both were standout cagers at the prep level. But John decided to hang up the sneakers after his high school days, and Kevin made a difficult choice while juggling the two sports in the middle of his tenure at Fallston.
“I always wanted to play basketball in college, but by that time, I realized that lacrosse was the way to go,” Kevin said.
Zimmerman recruited Kevin out of high school, and the 18-year-old wanted to attend, but he made a difficult, yet mature decision and enrolled at CCBC-Essex to ease the transition in the classroom and on the playing field. Neither wavered in their commitment two years later, and Kevin became a Retriever in the fall of 2007.
“When it came to UMBC, I stayed out of the recruiting process completely,” John said. “I didn’t want Kevin to go there unless it was truly his decision.”
Once he got to campus, Kevin realized the significance of his father’s time at UMBC. “When I came here, I saw his name and pictures on the wall in a couple places and the staff that had been here for awhile…well, they all recognized the name. But I didn’t feel any added pressure; it was nice. I was definitely proud of my dad, and it was nice to hear such great things about him.”
According to longtime UMBC administrator Dr. Charles Woolston, John Goedeke was one of the most influential student-athletes in the history of the campus. “I believe that John and the Kane brothers (basketball’s Jack and Howie) changed the face of UMBC Athletics,” Dr. Woolston said. “We went from competing against community colleges and junior varsities to the NCAA Division II quarterfinals in basketball.
“As an institution, UMBC should be very grateful to John that he came here. He was a good student who melded well into the community and was someone the other students got behind. He is one of those people that contributed from the first day he came on campus and he keeps contributing in so many ways.”
If academic and athletic prowess is a Goedeke family trait, modesty is definitely another. Although John is very fond of his time at UMBC and involvement since, the boys and their mother, Jan, had to drag exploits of his playing days out of him at the dinner table.
“We were pretty curious,” Kevin said. “We heard about it more from other people, but we pried some things out of him.”
After earning a starting role a few games into his first season at UMBC, Kevin enjoyed the Retrievers’ school-record ride of 11 straight wins into the NCAA Tournament. Despite his relatively short tenure on
“Parts of that game are still a blur,” Kevin recalled. “Coming back was an unbelievable experience. That was the first time I had ever won a championship so it was a really big deal.”
Kevin has progressed nicely and has been assigned to cover some of the tougher attackmen in the country this season. The defense only allowed 6.3 goals per game in its six-game winning streak, but Kevin is quick to deflect the credit.
“I think I’ve done okay,” he said. “I can’t take a lot of credit for match-ups. A lot of times, Jeremy (Blevins) is in the goal making the tough saves, and other guys around me are making the tough slides. I think it’s more of a group effort than an individual thing. We are really gelling as a team and as a defense and we’re playing well right now.”
Zimmerman said, “Kevin Goedeke has proven to be a quick learner and steady performer at the defensive position during his tenure here at UMBC, showing resilience and perseverance in his attitude and approach. Kevin leads by example and has the utmost respect of both the coaching staff and his peers.”
“I knew Kevin would create his own identity, and I think he has done that,” John added. ”He works very hard in the classroom and outside of the classroom. He has had a great experience at UMBC and it’s been wonderful to see.”
Kevin has been part of an historic run, as the men’s lacrosse team has won more games over the last four years (42) than in any other period in school history. Though Kevin and his teammates hope their season continues deep into May, it will eventually come to an end. But John has prepared his youngest son for the stretch run.
“I told him two weeks ago, ‘You are living your dream. Savor every moment. It goes by so fast.’ Even at my age, you look back and relish a lot of those memories.”
So, what’s the plan for any future Goedekes who come to UMBC to play lacrosse, basketball, or perhaps something else?
“Why not all of the above?” John said.