Participating in the youth basketball program at Ken-Rock Community Center reinforced the value of hard work and cooperation that have influenced me throughout my life.

Todd Brannan, Head Basketball Coach - Jefferson High School

I would like to say this has been a truly rewarding experience for me. I am very thankful for this opportunity, I wasn't able to afford going to a college course and I know that I wouldn't of received the personal attention that I needed. Joe is a phenomenal teacher! His patience and caring is very evident in his teaching style. I am also thankful for the caring of the office staff at Ken-Rock, always displaying cheerfulness.

Craig Kosin, Computer 101 Student

Being involved at Ken-Rock in team activities as a kid really enhanced my love of sports, which is still strong today. More importantly, playing team sports as a child provides an early life experience in getting along with others and interacting in a group with various personalities. This becomes even more important in adult life and the work environment. Lastly, the friendly competition is a positive thing to carry forward in life. Nothing wrong with wanting to win, just make sure to learn how to do it with dignity and class.

Dave Stone, Hamilton Sundstrand

I loved my coach (Ed Garza), the teamwork I learned, the chance to meet new people, and the competivness. If It wasn't for Ken-Rock I wouldn't be a seasoned athlete now. It gave me the confidence to branch out into new things. Ken-Rock taught me to play. If it wasn't for that I wouldn't be a player for East.

Ashley, Rockford East HS

I liked playing at Ken-Rock because there were a lot of nice kids on my team. I made some new friends & my coaches were really nice. I got to play all the positions & find out which ones I am best at. It was nice to hear people cheering for me.

Mason G.,

It all started here at Ken-Rock. Ken-Rock helped jump start my athletic career. Ken-Rock not only taught me all the fundamentals i needed to know, but it also taught me sportsmanship and team work. i believe that where i am today was partially from the help of Ken-Rock coaches and the programs it offers. Ken-Rock introduced me to the sports i love to play and also established friendships with others i still have today. Without going to Ken-Rock, I wouldn't have been able to get a head start in athletics such as football. Football has helped me stay in school and go to the next level of competition. I am now a freshman football player at Valparaiso University in Indiana. while at Ken-Rock I played Basketball, Baseball and Football; these sports combined helped me become the best athlete i could be.

Stephen Baxter, Valparaiso University

Ken-Rock Community Center promotes healthy, wholesome family ideals. All too often, our youth is swept away in a tide of negative influence. Ken-Rock serves as a much-needed community resource to assist increasingly busy families in building strong, successful kids. In today's economy, with not-for-profit funding withering on the vine, I pray that Ken-Rock will successfully navigate these troubled waters and continue to do what it does best. After all, where would my kids be now if I wasn't able to 'Let the Kids Play'

Kristy Hansen, Ken-Rock Mom

The William Howard Charitable Trust has been proud to support youth sports at Ken-Rock for over 20 years. Why? Because the programs are well run, well attended and truly make positive impacts on youth. Through after school programs and team sports, Ken Rock motivates rewards and encourages youth to be good citizens and good adults. We feel that is a solid investment in our future. This level of grass roots/neighborhood programming is a key to creating a culture of teamwork, non-violence and self-confidence for youth.

Sue Grans, Howard Trust administrator

Growing up participating in athletics at Ken-Rock gave me a strong foundation that helped develop my self-confidence and positive attitude, and taught me valuable lessons about how to work with others towards goals, win with class, and lose with dignity. Through Ken-Rock, I developed life-long friendships and bonded with my father. Now, twenty years later, my friends and family cherish the memories of our family experiences through Ken-Rock athletics. I had wonderful coaches who volunteered their time, not merely to win, but much more importantly, to develop boys socially, emotionally, and physically into young men with character. I will always think back to my childhood at Ken-Rock with fondness and know that everything Ken-Rock had done for me, it has done for thousands of other boys and girls for generations.

Chad R. Anderson, English Department Head
Head Boys' Track and Cross Country Coach
Rockford East High School

As a 5 year old boy in 1968 getting my first chance to play ball growing up at the Ken-Rock Community Center gave me an opportunity to develop friendships that still exist 40 years later. It has made me who I am today. It wasn’t just the sports I participated in; it was my involvement in the Thursday night Chess Club and the after school program that kept me on the straight and narrow. I was blessed to be able to come back and work for the Ken Rock Center since 1986 after my 4 year Air Force career. To give back to an organization that gave me so much more as a small child through my teen years.

Working with the people of the Ken-Rock Community Center has shown me what the word community is truly all about.

Volunteers have dedicated hours upon hours, years upon years for the common good of our families to enjoy the positives of recreation, education and social services. It’s never been about winning, it’s been about providing and creating “opportunity” for our families. It’s been all about the families learning & developing skills, building people through an organization that has been providing continuous service for over 80 years in southeast Rockford.

A small town atmosphere within the walls of Ken-Rock Community Center in a big city has affected thousands in so many ways that you cannot travel the city of Rockford without knowing someone who has been positively affected by the Community Center’s mission.

As Executive Director of the Ken-Rock Community Center I get to see these things occur daily. It’s an honor and a blessing to me and my family to have been part of one of the greatest landmarks of the Rockford community.

John K. Guth, Executive Director - Ken Rock Community Center

I grew up at Ken-Rock Community Center. I spent time going on camping trips and played softball. I also spent summers at summer rec. if it weren’t for ken rock, I would not have had the experiences that I have had. I know that my whole family has been affected by ken rock because my grandmother was Joyce Davis, 'the grandmother of Ken-Rock'. I spent nights there, weekends even... helping where I could.

Cara Brown

I grew up at Ken-Rock Community Center. I spent time going on camping trips and played softball. I also spent summers at summer rec. if it weren’t for ken rock, I would not have had the experiences that I have had. I know that my whole family has been affected by ken rock because my grandmother was Joyce Davis, ''the grandmother of Ken-Rock''. I spent nights there, weekends even... helping where I could.

Joyce Vance

Ken-Rock community center has impacted my life in a very positive way. Ken-Rock was the place where I got involved in team sports. I had the opportunity to play with and against some very talented players as well as play for coaches who had a concern for their players beyond the playing field. That caring that I received from coaches lead me into coaching and I try to exhibit that same caring spirit onto my players that I received from my coaches. The leagues were competitive and fun and I have built a lot of good relationships with players I played with and competed with that have lasted for over 35 years. Ken-Rock was and still is a great place for kids to join a team, compete, and establish relationships that can last a lifetime. I owe a lot to Ken-Rock it's where I and a lot of my friends learned how to play sports the right way.

Terry Gulley, Rockford Christian High School Teacher

I joined Ken-Rock Community Center to played starting at 10 years old. My dad ended up coaching team and mom was our scorekeeper. It was a great family event each summer growing up in the 1970’s. What a great experience.

Scott Siegrist

When my first daughter was 3 I took her to Ken-Rock to the pre-school gym classes they offered once a week for 8 or 10 weeks. She had such a good time there that the next session I also took my nephew who was the same age. She went to that for 2 years! The following year she started school and another year later I took my 2nd daughter to the gym classes as well. They both called it 'gym-school.' It was different than pre-school because they got to do active/athletic activities. Several of the other parents brought their children back too, and we, and especially our kids, got to be good friends. My 2 kids that attended are now 24 and 20 and still have fond memories of Ken Rock’s 'gym-school.' Small community activities sometimes make the biggest differences in the lives of our children! Thanks for all you do.

Ken-Rock Community Center was the home of the Rockford Redwings fast-pitch teams that my brother played for in the 70's. They won National Championships in Kansas City in '75 and in Austin, TX in '76. They had a 35 year reunion this past summer at the River Hawks game. Many guys made it and they included me in their team photo as 'best fan ever,' and as the official scorekeeper of many of the games. It was 'only' a softball league; but these guys (and me too, oddly enough), will always have that in common and hold it dear to their hearts. They are my other 'big brothers' forever because of the home they found at Ken-Rock. Thanks!!!!!

Anne Parrish Weisheit

When I was in grade school (in the 1970’s) the only thing I had extra, (coming from a family of 6 kids) was playing softball. It was the highlight of my week and it taught me sportsmanship and I met kids from all over the city.

When my son was 10, (1995) I took him to Ken Rock to learn the game of football with Coach Guth. My son learned the game, loved his coach and became an awesome football player...John nicknamed him Hollywood...because everyone loved to see him run the ball.

Also, when he was 8 he started basketball there. He was terrible when he first started. He never had played and learned the game through Ken Rock. He went the whole season without scoring a point until the last game.

It was the 4th quarter of the game, less than a minute left and still he had not scored a point. There was a foul called against the other team, the referee grabbed my son to shoot the free-throw, (he wasn't the one fouled, but no one said anything, not the parents or the coach). He shot the first free-throw and missed. This was it. If my baby didn't make this next shot, he would have gone the entire season without scoring. The gym was silent. He put that next shot up and it seemed like the longest shot ever. He made that shot and his entire team, the coach, the parents and his proud mother cheered and I will never forget the look on my son's face that is why 17 years later I can still tell this story like it was yesterday.

My son went on to play football and basketball for his entire time throughout his grade school and high school career. He learned sportsmanship through John Guth and Ken Rock community center. Having sports in my 3 boys lives have kept them on the right path and out of trouble.

A big Thank you to John Guth and Ken-Rock for starting my son on the right path of life!

Lori Didier

Ken-Rock has been like a second home for my family and I. All the hard working directors and staff, along with fellow volunteers are like our relatives we have become very close to most of them. Thru the dissolution of my 1st marriage and raising my 2 oldest and now adult children, Ken-Rock was a haven to seek help and guidance from friends on raising my kids. Now, re-married my wife and I still are raising our 3 younger sons thru sports programs at Ken-Rock., I will ALWAYS have a huge place in my heart for Ken-Rock and any one affiliated with the Center Much Love.

Ron Adams, Ken-Rock Community Center - Atheltic Director

Ken-Rock Community Center has been a very positives influence on family by giving my son and I the opportunity to learn and play softball together I have coached him and many other children for the last 17years, the past 5 years, I have coached my nephew and other children on the same team with my son assistance.

It is amazing to see the kids improve every year and to know you Have been apart of there growing achievements. I believe in the motto let the kids play and that all kids have the opportunities to play no matter what.

Don Penn

I started playing softball when the fields in the 1980’s, I played basketball, volunteered at special events, helped with concessions at bingo and football games!!! I wanted to play football, but my dad wouldn't have anything to do with that!! So I was the reason the cheerleading squad was started...as much as I hated it then, I'm glad for it now!! Look at all the girls that have been involved with football because of that!!! Some of the girls I met playing softball are still life long friends!!! I would like to thank my dad and all my other coaches for taking so many years out of there lives to coach us!!! But besides coaching us they also taught us that volunteering your time to the community is priceless!!! It can be a sacrifice to your family time, but if you do it right and get your families involved look at the lessons that are taught!!!! My childhood was Ken Rock Community Center and I wouldn't change a thing about it!!!! Thank you to all of the Ken Rock volunteers!!!!!

Angee Bowen Collins

I started out with Ken Rock when I was in third grade; it was my first involvement into sports. I did not even know how to bat correctly. I knew I could run fast and I knew that I did not like to lose. I started playing softball which led into football which led into basketball. I have so many stories that I could tell about each of the sports. Like hitting 3 or four home runs in one game, running for 4 touchdowns in one game in flag football and being a starting guard for many years in basketball. But for me being black and coming from a single household all the stars lined up for me to be another statistic ending up in jail or prison. I had all the ingredients for this perfect storm to take place. Looking back this was probably the most pivotal part of my life. Ken-Rock keep me busy so I wasn't running the streets like my other peers were not as fortunate. It gave me a father figure through my coaches that I did not have. It gave me discipline which I would have never received. It taught me teamwork and respect for my fellow man which some people never learn. And mostly it taught me how to handle loss and learn from my mistakes and recover. Ken-Rock was the reason I played sports in high school and my senior year was named athlete of the year for the entire conference. This led to a scholarship to Indiana University where my senior year I was named one of the captains of the team. I believe the things I was taught from the Ken-Rock Community Center made this an easy transition for it to happen. I then was drafted in the third round to the Cincinnati Bengals, and went on to sign with the Cowboys and the Oilers. There is so much more to tell but all of this was made possible because of Ken-Rock Community Center giving a small little black kid a chance, keeping him off the streets and showing him that someone cares. My son plays football for the University of Texas El Paso, so it will continue because of Ken-Rock.

Leonard Bell, Ken-Rock Football | Former NFL Player

Over the years the center has given me many new an rewarding experiences. I have come to thinking of the staff as not only staff but as my Ken Rock family. The center had adapted well to the needs of the community over the years. I am proud to tell people that I am a part of it.

Linda Swanson, Recreational Council President

I grew up at Ken Rock Community Center playing in their sports programs year-around. Ken Rock was a family affair with my father coaching three sports, my sister involved in sports and my mother supporting it all. I was lucky enough to have a lot of support at home but what has really lasted with me over the years is the impact that sports and Ken Rock had on friends that did not have that same family support. Ken Rock and their programs were really a lifeline to many kids that decided playing sports was better than getting in trouble. The volunteers and staff of Ken Rock provided positive role models for young kids and I will be forever grateful that Ken Rock Community Center was a big part of my youth.

Jeff Blume

As a kid Ken-Rock played a big part in my life thru football and basketball for many years. Through sports I learned dedication, hard work, and mostly to try my hardest and give it my all, with that you will have no regrets to look back on. My coaches were great with us kids Now, as a father, I'm so happy to have Ken-Rock to share with my son. It's amazing to watch my son practice football on the same feild I did and having a very awesome coach. Seeing him represent the same community center I did when I played really makes me proud to say that I'm a member of the Ken-Rock community center. Ken-Rock has also been a great place for summer and after school care. There is no other place I would trust that is as affordable as Ken-Rock. I can only hope that Ken-Rock will always be around to share with the next generation.

Ryan Peters

I can say that Ken-Rock Community Center has played a major roll in my life. I can say that my life would not be what it is today without Ken-Rock Community Center.

Terry J Dodge

There were three guiding factors in my youth that helped me become the man I am today, my family, the boy scouts and the Ken-Rock Community Center. I began playing softball at Ken-Rock when I was eight years old and learned the values of teamwork and friendship. I still maintain friendships today with those who competed with and against me when I was eight, many of whom are now community leaders, firemen, policemen, accountants, etc. They too owe much of who they are to Ken-Rock and the mountain of volunteers who helped guide them through their youth. The underling theme is that the Rockford-area today, benefits from yesterday’s Ken-Rock program and the Rockford of tomorrow will benefit from the youth and volunteers who are a part of Ken-Rock today.

My father, who volunteered at Ken-Rock as a softball coach, was, but one of those volunteers. He always credited Ken-Rock and his peers with helping me to achieve many of my goals, giving me the confidence to join the Boy Scouts and achieve the rank of Eagle and to be a team member representing Ken-Rock and Rockford on the 1975 Rockford Redwings youth National Fast Pitch Championship team. I was fortunate enough to return to Ken-Rock as an adult to help coach youth in basketball and softball. I’ve seen many of those boys and girls grow to be outstanding adults and leaders.

Having, myself, grown up in a less-fortunate part of town and watching many of my neighborhood friends take less productive paths I can only credit Ken-Rock and those volunteers and leaders in helping me stay on a positive trail. Thank you John and Ken-Rock for all that you do for the community. I wish you the best and look forward to watching you accept this year’s award!

Bob Kinnison, Winnebago County Board

Be Involved

Ken-Rock Community Center is renowned for its youth recreation sports programs. Over 1,200 boys and girls participate in year round sports and recreational activities. Fun, Sportsmanship and skill development is the focus of these programs along with a stress on character development.

All of Ken-Rock's sports programs depend on volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering contact Athletic Director Ron Adams by email at R.adams@kenrock.org or by phone at (815) 398-8864.

Get in Touch