Kayed wants positives remembered as Notre Dame head coach

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Suli Kayed remained upbeat despite the events that have transpired over the last week.

The Pandas finished 45-4-3 overall in Kayed’s two-year tenure, including an impressive 28-0-1 run in 2021 on the way to the fourth state championship in school history. Notre Dame is one of six programs in Kentucky with two or more state championships. Only South Oldham and Louisville Sacred Heart have more than the Pandas with eight and seven respectively.

“When I came to Notre Dame, I didn’t know what to expect. People from around were kind of asking, ‘Why would I want to go there?’ I quickly realized why Notre Dame was special,” Kayed said. “At the end of the day, it’s about the girls. The girls are fantastic. I thought it would be a big shock to me going from high school-aged boys to high school-aged girls. But it wasn’t. These girls at Notre Dame were competitive, driven, hungry to win. More importantly, they were so mature. I had to make sure I was on my A game because if not, they are going to hold you accountable. On the field, they’re really hungry for success. That’s who they are as people. They always go for greatness. There’s no in-between.”

Late last week, Notre Dame Principal Jack VonHandorf emailed players and family members stating that Kayed offered to resign to pursue other opportunities. But Kayed posted on Facebook that was not the case after stating his motto that he’s not perfect, nor will he ever be.

“There was this tradition at NDA where players get cut their junior year if they weren’t going to have an impact on the field their junior and senior year. And those players getting cut are talented players. Maybe would struggle to see a ton of time on the field, but definitely deserving to play high school soccer,” Kayed said on Facebook. “So as a fresh new coach at the school who loves this game, I chose to keep more players then what was done in the past, which families were super grateful for. Grateful as in sending long emails and cards to thank me. Fast forward one year, and those exact families were unhappy about the playing time. As the 2022 season concluded, those parents (whose daughters are graduating) painted a very ugly and untrue picture about me and took it to our principal, Jack VonHandorf.”

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Kayed wrote that he’s dealt with unhappy parents in the past. But he said Notre Dame Director of Athletics Myanna Webster and Assistant AD Susan Colvin have supported him and the other coaches unconditionally. He added Webster is stepping away from Notre Dame at the end of the school year leaving the leadership decision to VonHandorf. Link NKY reached out to VonHandorf for comment. But VonHandorf did not return the phone call.

“The false accusation, and ugly picture that the few families painted of me happened back a few months ago. When the other 80 percent of the program heard about this, they showed tremendous support,” Kayed said on Facebook. “They met with the principal, all sent him emails supporting me. I told those parents, I’m not here to fight for my position because I have not put myself in a situation to have to do that. But my heart felt full when I witnessed the good in this world standing up against the bad, and the false information that was being shared.”

Kayed said he’s received a number of emails from teachers, parents and players, including players he thought he was tough on. Kayed said he wants and demands the best out of his players and he is glad the players shared the same desire leading to the amount of success in the past two year.

“I’m not talking about two, three paragraphs. I’m talking about long emails explaining how grateful they are for the hard moments and the good moments from what I’ve been able to teach them on the field,” Kayed said. “The one big thing that stuck out was how I was able to take their drive, their passion from the sport from already being great to even greater because of the passion they saw from me every single day on the field. Overall, it’s been a fantastic experience. It is a great program and there’s potential for a state title almost every year.”

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Kayed said he may end up coaching high school soccer again. But it has to be the right fit for him and the program.

“I’ve gotten a few calls from schools in Kentucky and schools outside of Kentucky. I just need to make sure I don’t make an emotional or reactional decision here. I do coach a club team,” Kayed said. “But there’s something special about being around a family where you can have an impact because you do see them every single day. I do see myself coaching. I don’t know if it will be boys or girls. I don’t know if it will be this fall or next fall. I’m okay with taking a fall off and coaching club for a full year. We’ll just see what happens. Opportunities have opened up. I just have to pray about it and make sure that I make a wise decision.”

Prior to coming to Notre Dame, Kayed spent two seasons coaching the Boone County boys leading them to a 12-13 record.

“God opens doors, and closes doors,” Kayed said on Facebook. “I left the principals office today after being asked to resign without a single negative feeling inside of me. I know God does certain things because HE knows what is best for you. I know how much time, effort, and love my staff and I have poured into this program.”

Kayed, a Denmark native, graduated from Ryle in 2015 after lettering all four years in high school before going on to have an outstanding career at Thomas More. Kayed helped the Raiders to the 33rd District championship as a junior in 2013 and served as team captain in 2014.

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Kayed started almost every game his final three years for the Saints. He earned second-team all-conference honors in 2018.

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