Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014
Central High School

Former athlete finds happiness as family man


Published:   |   Updated: September 24, 2013 at 04:26 PM

One of Central High's athletic pioneers, Kevin Andrew Kanaar, remains a solid fixture in Hernando County.

The stocky-built, 5-foot-9, 205-pound former three-sport standout for the Bears doesn't bulldoze through opposing defenses like he did under CHS gridiron skippers Pat McCoy in 1989 and Barry Gardner in 1990.

Nor does he complement his wrestling teammates like he did under coach Alan Solomon.

Moreover, at age 40, Kanaar can no longer can bench press 225 pounds a ridiculous 28 consecutive times. But who can?

Back in the day, he returned home with a pair of medals (silver and bronze) as a junior and as a senior in weightlifting under a fledgling CHS coach named John Palmer.

Besides bench pressing as much as 365 pounds, Kanaar was timed running a 4.6 40-yard dash.

Upon graduation from CHS in June 1991, he earned a football scholarship at NAIA's Division II Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tenn.

He had turned down offers from Maryville College in Maryville, Tenn., McMurray College in Abilene, Texas and Culver-Stockton in Canton, Missouri.

His signing made headlines as he was the first-ever Bear student/athlete to sign an athletic scholarship.

Kanaar played one season for the Pioneers before injuring his right knee.

Upon relocating to Hernando County, Kanaar followed his mother's advice and went into financial planning.

"I'm a people person," professed Kanaar. "That's why I gravitated that way. I was asking myself, 'What can I do to better my career?'

"Looking back, I have loved every minute of it. The industry's constant change is fun," noted Kanaar. "The entire goal is about building relationships."

He began his career journey at the Tampa Technical Institute where he earned his associate degree in applied science.

He paid his bills by working at nearby Circuit City in Brooksville where he excelled as one of the company's finest salesmen across the nation for three years.

From 1995-98, he worked with the Bauer Financial Group.

A year later, he married his high school sweetheart Jaclynn - all this after they were feted as "Most Attractive Couple" in the yearbook.

The family resides in Southern Hills Plantation Club with their two daughters: Kylie Rose, 10, and Ava, 8, who are honor roll students at nearby Chocachatti Elementary.

Kevin opened his business in 1996. The Kanaar Financial Life office is located at 14269 Powell Road in Brooksville.

His firm, which was previously honored by the Chamber of Commerce as Hernando County's "Small Business of the Year," specializes in insurance and financial services. His goal is to help client's manage and accumulate their assets for retirement.

"I don't work for a big firm, so my business is recession-proof," emphasized Kanaar. "I sell products that will stand the test of time, they're not going away."

On what career advice he recently gave to his nephew, former Springstead quarterback John Hogeland, "To constantly talk to customers and build basic sales skills. I told him not to be afraid to take risks in life," he said. "Build a skeleton plan, do it and then figure out how to implement it."

Jaclynn, a 1991 CHS alumnus, works part-time in Kanaar Financial, has a real estate license and serves as a yoga instructor 2-3 times a week at Southern Hills.

During the past three years, Kevin has donned his whistle and has helped coach his daughters in Hernando Youth Soccer. He double-dips as a member of the league's Board of Directors.

"My daughters are used to me being around," noted Kanaar. "I'm usually at practice a half-hour before they are."

After practice, the Kanaars have supper together Monday through Thursdays and Sundays. During dinner, each family member discusses his/her "high/low" for the day.

According to Kanaar, it's not only a way of stimulating conversation, but staying "in touch" with the entire family 24/7.

"Some people prefer to take breaks from each other," explained Kanaar on the closeness with his family. "We're the other way around. The more time we spend together, the better we are."

On his path to balance, "I used to be the guy who didn't stop working 24/7," recalled Kanaar. "I took calls at all hours of the night. I'd meet with clients at the drop of the hat. After all those years, it's given Jaclynn and me what we really want - that's the freedom to spend time with our daughters.

"We help with their homework every night. They're great kids already. They're both highly motivated," described Kanaar. "On a daily basis, tucking the girls in is like a half-hour ceremony - it's a ritual, but I love it. I didn't think of all the benefits surrounded by being so involved with our children. There's a certain synergy involved - a good vibe.

"Maybe it's got something to do with how we were brought up," added Kanaar. "My parents were divorced and my mom worked her tail off and could only do so much, same with Jaclynn."

Kevin was originally born in Muskegon, Michigan as the younger of two children to Steve and Myrna Kanaar.

He his and older sister, Kristy, have called Florida home for over 33 years.

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Kanaar's athletic roots trace back to playing catch with his father in the backyard.

His initial organized sport was Dunedin Little League. Though he was 11 years old, he always played in the older division (13s).

He was mostly a right-handed pitcher, who as he got older got bigger and stronger.

Kanaar recalls branching out by playing Pop Warner Football for the Oldsmar Falcons. He played both sides of the scrimmage at running back and linebacker.

At Safety Harbor Middle School, since the Seahawks did not have a football program, he concentrated on track and field. He built up his speed running in the 4x400 relay.

When the Kanaar's relocated to Spring Hill, Kevin followed his sister to Springstead.

As a freshman, he performed at the junior varsity level in football, wrestling, baseball and weightlifting.

A year later, he was elevated to the varsity roster in football under Bill Browning, but stood behind all-purpose threat Skip Barb on the depth chart.

When fall turned to winter, in wrestling once again the multi-talented Barb was ahead of him on the varsity roster under future Hall of Fame mat mentor Bob Levija.

He remembers playing JV baseball and also lifting weights again under Browning.

Before his junior season, he transferred to Central High. That move paid dividends leading to a starting position on offense and defense under McCoy. At tailback, he rushed for over 700 yards while also playing linebacker.

He was anointed as the Bear captain as a junior and senior.

On the mats under Solomon, he mostly competed at 160 pounds. That young team was competitive behind the Reyes brothers and Chris Carrington.

In the spring, he placed second in Class 2A in the state weightlifting finals.

After a 3-7 campaign as a junior, Kanaar rarely left the field for the first-ever winning football team at CHS in 1990.

Home games were played mostly at Springstead's Booster Stadium as the Bears' Den was still two years removed from being completed.

At season's end, Gardner's first-ever team finished 7-4 and played in the first-ever Hernando County Championship Bowl at Tom Fisher Memorial Stadium.

Interestingly, the Leopards, who were led by stout running back Dwayne Mobley, stuffed the Bears, 26-0.

"The Leopards had stud players. We lost, but it wasn't a landslide," recalled Kanaar. "For us it was fun. We had played some local teams and we were eager to play, but our O-line was ridiculously smaller than theirs. I remember we were up for the challenge, but got thrown around."

Kanaar completed his senior year with a school-record 1,217 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.

Besides leading the Bears in scoring with 80 points, he collected a team-best 94 tackles featuring five sacks, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions while notching two safeties.

One of his all-time memories was rushing for 141 yards and scoring three touchdowns while celebrating his 18th birthday - a 39-0 win against Hawthorne.

"That was so much fun playing on my birthday," recalled Kanaar. "I remember there were a lot of people in the stands. Both times I played against Hawthorne, I had great games."

After the season, the accolades poured in.

Kanaar was voted as the team's Most Valuable Offensive Back and received the team's Most Valuable Player Award. He was also named to the Tampa Tribune's All-Pasco-and-Hernando Team.

Instead of wrestling as a senior, Kanaar concentrated on bulking up for the expected rigors of college football. He capped his final weightlifting season placing third in the 3A state finals.

Kanaar almost didn't lift at states. Days before the meet, he and some buddies went out to Bayport and came in contact with poison oak. As a result, he attended the meet - weighing in 10 pounds under weight - but his body was covered with lesions from Lyme disease.

"The adrenaline of competing kept me going," recalled Kanaar. "But I was hurting all over."

Despite his athletic versatility, Kanaar's passion was the gridiron.

"Baseball was the first sport I was exposed to and that's what I wanted to do when I was younger," recalled Kanaar. "But since middle school recess I started playing flag football and I had a knack for it. I found out I had the moves and then I started to get stronger."

When Kanaar looked in the mirror, he said, "I was a definitely an offensive guy. There were games during my senior year where I made near 20 tackles a game. I remember it was so hot. I was going both ways, plus I was the deep guy on kickoffs. I remember throwing up a lot; I got so winded."

Upon his 20-year class reunion, Kevin and his wife returned to CHS. He was taken aback with what he witnessed.

"I can't say it didn't bother me," Kanaar said. "When I played, there was a lot of heart and spirit here. There were so many people in the stands yelling and screaming. When I went back, it was weird. There was like nobody was there. The culture is different; it's changed so much.

"Even though we were new and fresh to football, we played with heart. A lot of those values and lessons I learned back then, I still use today in life."


By the numbers: Central's Kevin Kanaar

Rushing

YR ATT YDS YPC TD

1989 133 704 5.29 08

1990 192 1,217 6.34 12

TOTALS 325 1,921 5.91 20

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