Boys Lacrosse: Olentangy Liberty Patriots’ Aidan Kenley learns to ‘fight through adversity’

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Liberty's Aidan Kenley, an Ohio State commit, recently returned from a concussion that forced him to sit out four games. He said the injuries that he's endured have taught him how to "fight through adversity."

The bumps in the road that Aidan Kenley has experienced the past three years are what he considers part of the process of bigger things to come. 

The Olentangy Liberty senior received an offer to play men’s lacrosse at Ohio State as an eighth-grader and backed it up by becoming a first-team all-league honoree and tallying 36 goals and 13 assists as a freshman. 

Since that time, though, the future Buckeye has run into one obstacle after another in the sport. 

After helping the Liberty football team reach its third consecutive Division I state semifinal in 2018, Kenley suffered a torn labrum that kept him from playing his sophomore season for the lacrosse team. 

Then last spring, the lacrosse season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

While Kenley got in four full seasons of prep football, including three as a key player, what will end up being his second full lacrosse season for the Patriots had a rocky start when he sustained a concussion three minutes into a 7-5 opening loss to Cincinnati Moeller on March 20. 

He missed the next four games before being cleared. 

“I just think I’ve gained being able to fight through adversity,” Kenley said. “It seems like one thing after another and it’s never ending, so for me, that’s the biggest piece. I don’t take it as this is a sign that I need to retire from any kind of athletic career, but I take it more as my time is coming and I haven’t hit my best yet.” 

Kenley returned for limited action in the Patriots’ 17-5 win over Delaware on April 8 and was back at full strength for a 13-6 victory over Hilliard Davidson on April 12 that improved their record to 5-2 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Central Division. 

He said he’s “not completely sure” how his concussion occurred. 

“We watched the film and there wasn’t any distinctive evidence of how it happened, but I remember getting hit in the head,” Kenley said. “It was literally within the first three minutes (against Moeller) and I just got back (April 8). My head feels fine. I’m definitely a little winded, but it feels good to be back out here.” 

Kenley’s return figures to be especially important considering Liberty also lost junior starting attacker Charlie Howenstine to a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter of the Moeller game. 

Senior attacker Alex Theuerkauf, who is a Robert Morris commit, senior midfielder Joey Wiseman and sophomore attacker Owen McGee have been among the bright spots offensively, according to coach Jason Godwin. 

“I’m really glad that we’re playing,” Godwin said. “We had two pretty big injuries in our first game and Aidan missed four games, but he’s back and his role is drawing teams’ slides. He’s been shooting forever so he’s able to shake and we’re working on finding him. … We’ve grown up fast.” 

While junior Freddy Noday has been stepping up in faceoffs, according to Godwin, Kenley’s brother, sophomore Grant Kenley, has become a part of a defensive unit that also features junior Jake McDermott at long-stick midfielder. 

Aidan Kenley, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound running back who had more than 1,300 all-purpose yards and 18 touchdowns last fall and 2,683 career rushing yards in football, said he’s excited to get an opportunity to play with his brother this spring. 

He’s also looking forward to better times ahead in lacrosse this season as well as at the collegiate level with the Buckeyes.

“We’ve been watching (Ohio State) on TV,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming and I’m ecstatic about it. Every time I’m playing football or lacrosse, this is making me better for that stage, the one I’ve been dreaming about for as long as I can remember.” 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek