Kevin Knezevich sat down recently with Model Laboratory athletic director Scotty Sutton to discuss plans for inducting former swimming coach Tim Cahill into the school’s athletic hall of fame.
There was a surprise, though.
“He started asking me questions about my career and then he sprung it on me,” Knezevich said.
Sutton told Knezevich, the current swim coach at Model, that he would be honored along with his former coach and mentor.
“It was a special moment. I didn’t know really what to say or how to react,” Knezevich said.
Cahill and Knezevich were recognized on Friday night during a ceremony at the school and banners highlighting their accomplishments were unveiled in the gym.
Knezevich and Cahill, who passed away in 2010, are just the third and fourth members of the Model Athletics Hall of Fame — joining Melanie Welsing (three-time Class A state hurdles champion) and Joshua Smith (state archery champion).
“It’s just a super honor. It’s very humbling,” Knezevich said. “If it was just Tim, I would be just as happy. He deserves it. I don’t know if I deserve it, but I’ll take it and cherish it. Just to be able to share it with his family and people I grew up swimming with is so special.”
Knezevich and Cahill shared a special relationship.
Cahill was a coach, mentor, and more importantly, a friend to Knezevich.
And almost nine years after his death, Cahill is still a big influence on his former swimmer.
“I just try every day to emulate him and try to translate my experiences under him to these kids,” Knezevich said. “I owe all my success in life to my parents and Tim.”
Many members of the Cahill family were at the school for the ceremony.
Tim’s wife, Judy, was glad that the coach and the swimmer were honored together.
“I’m sure he is looking down and smiling right now,” Cahill said.
Cahill moved to Northern Kentucky a few years ago to live with her sister.
The event brought her back to Richmond and provided an opportunity for her to show her grand-children — most of which were not even born when Tim died — what an impact the coach had on people.
“We wanted to give them a good introduction to their grandfather,” Cahill said.
Cahill was one of the most successful high school swimming coaches in Kentucky history.
He spent 31 years at Model and coached 39 individual state, nine high school All-Americans and led the Patriots to more than 20 regional championships.
The Patriots won the combined team Kentucky High School Athletic Association team state title in 1996 under Cahill along with the 1984 boys state team title.
In 1981, Model finished as the state-runner up in the girls team competition.
Cahil coached more than 50 athletes who went on to swim in college.
In 2010, shortly before his death, Cahill was named the National Swimming and Diving Coach of the Year by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.
He was inducted into the KHSAA Hall of Fame in 2012.
“He worked long and hard,” Cahill said. “He was special. Recognizing him for that is important to us.”
Knezevich swam at Model from 2002 to 2007 and had an outstanding high school career.
He was the state runner-up in the 100-yard butterfly twice (2005, 2006) before winning the title as a senior. His time of 50.79 is still the school record in the event.
Knezevich was a four-time All-American and was part of three record-breaking relays teams.
He went on to swim at the University of Kentucky and Western Kentucky University.
Knezevich set three school records at WKU (200 free relay, 400 medley relay and 100 butterfly). He went on to be named a Mid-Major All-American as served as a team captain his senior season (2011-12).
The Model graduate returned to his alma mater in 2017 to take over the swimming program. Last season, he led the Patriots to their first region title in more than a decade and earlier this season Model claimed its first-ever Madison County Championship.