City of Rochester Hills and the 2010 Major League Soccer Champs

So what do the City of Rochester Hills and the 2010 Major League Soccer Champion Colorado Rapids have in common? The connection isn’t as far as one might think.

The Colorado Rapids are a charter member of Major League Soccer (MLS) which began in 1996 as part of the commitment by the United States and it’s soccer federation’s bid for hosting the World Cup in 1994 (soccer’s highest tournament between nations). Located in Denver, Colorado and originally owned by Phillip Anshutz, the Rapids first team featured well-known players like Marcelo Balboa and Shaun Bartlett, but under Head Coach Bobby Houghton, ended last in the Western Conference and with the worst record in the league. The following season saw a lot of changes, both on the field and off, and the Rapids made a Cinderella-esque run to the MLS Cup Final where they lost 2-1 in a torrential downpour to D.C. United, MLS’ marquee team. The Rapids made playoff appearances in eight of the next 12 seasons before winning the MLS Cup in 2010, defeating FC Dallas 2-1 at Toronto’s BMO Field last November.

So what’s the connection?

From 1999-2001, the Rapids Media Relations Assistant and Interim Director, Brad Kenney, grew up in Rochester Hills. Kenney left the team in 2001 to begin graduate work at Denver Seminary and rejoined the Rapids in 2002, but this time in the voluntary role of team chaplain. It is a position he has held ever since and has now founded an organization called CrossTraining, to raise money and to develop a network of professional chaplains involved in sport. We caught up with Brad and asked about his connections to Rochester.

“I am a Denver native, but we moved to Michigan in my 6th grade year. It was quite a shock – we were coming from Phoenix, Arizona because of my dad’s new job. We rented in Utica for a while before landing in Rochester Hills.”

When asked about his first memory of Michigan?

“The mosquitos – we’d never seen anything so big and they packed a punch.”

What was growing up in Rochester like?

“Absolutely loved it. My brother and I have a lot of memories of playing in the woods, the fall-time I think was my families favorite as we enjoyed the cider mill and the small-town feel of Rochester. It was a special place to grow up and experience.”

Compared to living in Colorado, where does Rochester rank?

“You know, we have the Rocky Mountains on our doorstep in Denver and the weather is really nice with nearly 300 days of sunshine a year; but I brought my family back here in 2009 to show them where I grew up and they fell in love with Rochester. Walking the Paint Creek Trail, going to the cider mills and apple orchards, attending the Art and Apple Festival my wife, who has never been to the Midwest, loved it and while I don’t think she would have ever wanted to move from our family in Colorado she was having some second thoughts as we spent a few days here.”

What brought you to Rochester in 2009?

“Actually, it had to do with my work with the Rapids soccer team. As team chaplain, I raise money to try and cover the expenses that I incur, and because the organization I created to do that is so small we get help from an organization based in Rochester, called START Ministries.”

What is START Ministries?

“It’s an organization that helps people like me do the work I do without having to go through the entire process of becoming a non-profit, 501c3. They mainly help people who want to do mission trips and we have had a relationship for the past few years that has enabled me to carry on the work of a chaplain to the Rapids.”

What is a chaplain?

“Well, the story and history of chaplaincy is fairly long, if someone wants to read more on it look up Saint Martin of Tours on google. But essentially, a chaplain is someone who guards the sacred. As a chaplain, my role is to remind people about what is truly important, what is truly sacred in life. And the approach that I use is to treat people holistically – pro athletes are in great physical shape, but they need help with spiritual fitness and that is where I serve them.”

Greatest moment as a chaplain?

“Well, being a part of the team delegation for the MLS Cup Final in 2010 was so special and a tremendous honor – I don’t think there will be many experiences that can top that, especially with winning the championship. But I will say that there are these other ‘little’ moments that are just as important and special – they are the moments when someone’s life is changed and transformed because of a word said, a meal shared, or simply being present with people through adversity and through success – those are great moments.”

Professional team ever in Rochester?

“Well, I don’t think so – but with the resurgence that Detroit is having this year in sports maybe there will be an MLS team in the area in the future.”

Until then, can we root for the Rapids?

“Absolutely. There can be a special chapter for our fan club – we’ll call you guys the Rochester Rapids, even.”


For more on the Colorado Rapids visit For more on Brad Kenney’s work as a chaplain visit

About Tom and Ann Gendich

Founders of Rochester Media. Looking to provide great local news to all people in and around Rochester and Rochester Hills. Send them a note at

Speak Your Mind