Brothers in Arms: Kenny (left) and Keith Knoop (Photos by Dick Dornan)
By Dick Dornan
MyBurbank Sports Editor
When Marjorie Knoop arrives to a football game, she takes her seat in the stands and cheers on Burroughs. She will hoot, holler, scream and yell her beloved Indians on to victory.
But the game within the game for Marjorie occurs outside the hash marks and along the sideline. As each play develops and ends, she will keep a keen eye on the success of the Indians offense as well as the defense.
After all, how could she not?
As the mother of Burroughs coach Keith Knoop and his brother, Kenny, Marjorie is invested in the program as much as her two sons. Keith calls the plays as the offensive coordinator while Kenny buckles down as the defensive coordinator.
She can feel her sons’ exhilaration in victory as much as their pain in defeat. The amount of pride she has for Keith and Kenny is evident in her smile and devotion to Burroughs football. She is a coaches’ mother true and true.
“I love it. I love to come to every game. I enjoy watching them coach,” she said. “I’m very proud of both of them. They do a great job and it’s great to be here.”
As with many legacy families in the city of Burbank, loyalty is divided amongst the household between mothers and father, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters whether they attended Burroughs or Burbank High.
Burroughs head coach Keith Knoop
The Knoop family is no different. Marjorie hails from the Burbank class of 1961 while Keith graduated from atop the hill in 1981. During Keith’s playing days with the Bulldogs, Kenny served as the team’s ball boy.
“I’m still a Burbank fan because I am a Burbankian,” Marjorie said quietly.
A second later….
“But I love Burroughs more.”
Now the twist begins. Or shall we say a detour down Olive Avenue with a stop at 1920 W. Clark Ave. Home of the cross-town rivals.
Marjorie’s daughter, Karin, graduated from Burroughs in 1988 after an All-CIF career in basketball and softball. Karin parlayed her amazing high school career into an All-American softball player at Cal State Fullerton. She is a JBHS Hall of Fame honoree who is now a Licensed Financial Advisor in Burbank.
Kenny followed Karin to JBHS and received his red diploma in 1995.
Kenny (left) and Keith begin another season together at Burroughs (Photo courtesy of Kenny Knoop)
After a solid career at Glendale City College and San Jose State, Keith became a member of the Burroughs football coaching staff. Now in his 17th year as the head coach of the Indians, Knoop is a pillar of strength and stability for the JBHS athletic department.
Kenny took a similar path through GCC only to take a different route than Keith’s and play at Fresno State. Kenny is now in his 12th year on the Burroughs staff including eight years as the defensive coordinator.
Together Keith and Kenny have taken the life lessons that Marjorie raised them on and instilled them in their past and present day Burroughs student-athletes. The two have the ultimate respect for each other as brothers and as football aficionados.
“He has such a great understanding of football and especially on the defensive side of the ball,” Keith said. “He brings an incredible depth of knowledge for a young guy only in his 30’s. He has learned a lot from me when he was just my DB coach. Once I became the offensive guy and turned it over to him, he’s run with it.”
Defensive coordinator Kenny Knoop instructs his players (Photo by Dick Dornan)
After learning how to throw a football from his older sister, Kenny began to look up to his big brother for a better understanding of the game. Football not only brought them closer, but enriched their relationship despite the 14-year gap in age.
“He means everything especially in the game of football. He has taught me so much,” Kenny said. “From being a ball boy to playing at Glendale College all the way up to sitting in meetings as a 36-year-old man. He’s been my coach, mentor, teacher, parent, father figure and role model. He’s been in every aspect of my life as my brother.
“Even though we are so far apart in age, we have that close brother relationship. That has really benefitted us. We can talk about anything, we can take care of any situation on the team that needs to be addressed, and we think like each other.”
Pacing back-and-forth along the sideline, Keith and Kenny will provide an environment where boys become men throughout the course of the season. Discipline, teamwork, mental toughness and accountability will be emphasized as much as the fundamentals, X’s and O’s that accompany an Indians’ practice.
The Knoop Brothers (Photo by Dick Dornan)
As September kicks into gear with high school football games being played across the Southland, we know this for sure- the Knoop brothers will take to the field again for another season of Burroughs football and Marjorie will be there as usual to support her two sons. Home or away. Rain or shine.
“She will travel to the earth’s end to watch us either play or coach. Our mom is very supportive,” Kenny said. “She never misses a game and she’s been a part of our booster club for a long time. She comes to our scrimmages, clinics, fundraisers. She has been part of everything.”
Well, almost everything. When asked if she provides advice before the game or would want to give a halftime pep talk, Marjorie laughed and emphatically said, ‘Absolutely not.’”
Marjorie also added that “if I didn’t support the team, I wouldn’t see my sons for months at a time.”
The Burroughs community is fortunate to have two men who represent the school and football program with class and integrity.
“Being the faces of this program is pretty important to us and the community,” Kenny said.
In the end, Keith and Kenny Knoop are a reflection of each other and most importantly, a reflection of their mother.
“They have become such good people from what they learned playing football and eventually in coaching,” Marjorie said. “They love it and I think it will probably go on forever.”