Westminster girls soccer coach Ken Headley passes away

Published 3:12 pm Tuesday, January 8, 2019

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – It’s easy to recognize a genuine and kind-hearted person, and that’s exactly the impact Westminster at Oak Mountain girls soccer coach Ken Headley had on his players in a short period of time.

In the early-morning hours of Tuesday, Jan. 8, Headley passed away after a valiant fight against cancer.

Headly’s impact was seen during his time as the head coach of so many young student athletes that wanted to be a part of his team, and that carried over into the emotions of what took place on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

With news coming out that he had passed away, the girls on his team were told during the morning, which led to plenty of tears, but also shared laughter with stories of his goofy ways of doing different things.

The one statement that really sticks out and sums up the person and leader he was in life was said on Westminster at Oak Mountain’s Facebook page saying, “By now most of you have heard that we lost our sweet varsity girl’s soccer coach.”

The key word in that statement was ‘sweet.’

From many who knew him, that’s how they would describe him. A genuine, caring soul that wanted nothing more than to help his family, his players and any other person he could.

On behalf of Headley’s wife, Lynn Headley, Spain Park head boys soccer coach Matt Hall set up a GoFundMe page in June of 2018 in order to help raise money for the family and the battle ahead.

On that page, Headley is described as “one of the kindest, most helpful and well-regarded people in the Birmingham-area and Alabama soccer community.”

Headley joined Westminster at Oak Mountain in September of 2017, replacing former head coach Patrick Fitzgerald.

With big shoes to fill in the 2018 season, Headley came right in and took care of business earning his players’ respect and showing great leadership.

He went on to lead the team to a remarkable 24-2-1 overall record during the season and a first-round 10-0 mercy-rule victory against Prattville Christian.

They then went on to drop a tough 4-1 game in the second round to Montgomery Academy, which kept them from the Final Four, but Montgomery Academy went on to win the state championship with Westminster’s three-goal margin being the closest competition Montgomery faced in its four postseason games.

Almost as soon as the impressive season came to an end, however, Headley started experiencing severe headaches, elevated blood pressure and difficulty using his left arm.

After a trip to the emergency room, it was determined he had a tumor in the right frontal lobe of his brain, which led to an immediate surgery on May 22 to remove the tumor.

Doctors were able to remove all visible signs and Headley started chemotherapy shortly after, with treatments daily.

The battle was a long and difficult one for he and his family with seizures and more loss in his left side, but Headley never lost faith, he never gave up and he never lost his love for those supporting and believing in him.

He often gave updates on his Facebook page throughout the battle, and even at one point in November said he would be on the sideline for every girls soccer game this upcoming spring.

While he ended up passing away, he didn’t lose a battle, he left a legacy.

His spirit will continue to roam the sidelines and his players will feel his usual antics on the sideline during every game this season.