Mater Dei celebrates former girls basketball coach Kevin Kiernan during school rally – Orange County Register

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SANTA ANA — Mater Dei honored departing girls basketball coach Kevin Kiernan during a school rally Wednesday with heart-felt messages and tickets to watch his beloved Boston Celtics.

Before a packed gathering in the gym, Mater Dei president Mike Brennan recounted Kiernan’s coaching accomplishments, including leading the Monarchs to two national championships. But the sentiments soon focused on Kiernan’s impact mentoring female athletes on and off the court.

Kiernan, the state’s all-time leader in girls coaching victories, was greeted at center court by school administrators. He excitedly raised his hands above his head before receiving the NBA tickets.

“Mater Dei has always been really good to me,” Kiernan said afterward. “I’m very appreciative and grateful for everything. I’m not leaving. I’m still here.”

Kiernan remains an athletic director at the Trinity League school. He resigned from coaching after this past girls basketball season, his 17th at Mater Dei. He cited health reasons and the need for a new voice for the powerhouse program.

Mater Dei hired former collegiate coach and Brea Olinda and USC player Jody Wynn as Kiernan’s replacement in late April.

“She was the only one we wanted,” Kiernan said of Wynn, who joined Kiernan’s staff as an assistant coach this past season.

Kiernan will have surgery to remove a cyst on his vocal cords in the coming weeks.

“Looks like it’s going to be a longer recovery — two to three months. (The cyst) has grown,” he said. “It’s a tricky surgery but I’m very hopeful I’ll be OK after the summer.”

After his recovery, Kiernan can look forward to watching the Celtics play when they visit the Lakers next season.

And next May, Kiernan and Wynn will be among the inductees into the Southern California Basketball Hall of Fame.

Kiernan compiled his state-record 900 girls victories between coaching stops at La Quinta, Troy and Mater Dei.

He guided the Monarchs to six section and three state titles. He led Troy to five section and three state crowns, and La Quinta to one section championship.

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