Former American University and D.C. United midfielder Shawn Kuykendall died Wednesday after a yearlong battle with thymic cancer. He was 32.
“He was energetic, positive, a bright guy,” said American U. soccer coach Todd West. “He was really infectious in that sense.”
D.C. United selected Kuykendall in the fourth round of the MLS Supplemental Draft in 2005. He made his MLS debut with the team later that year, playing in two games, and was on the New York Red Bulls’ roster in 2006.
Prior to his time with United, Kuykendall played at American from 2001-2005.
Kuykendall joined the Eagles coaching staff as a volunteer assistant in 2010 and was promoted to assistant coach for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
West has strong ties to the Kuykendall family, dating back nearly 25 years to when Kuykendall played on the regional Under-15 team coached by West.
West and his coaching staff rallied behind Kuykendall, shaving their heads for “Shawn Kuykendall Day,” and Kuykendall continued to be engaged and involved with the AU soccer program despite the personal setbacks he endured.
The Kuykendall family has a rich history at American University. Shawn’s father Kurt was an All-American goalkeeper for the Eagles in 1973, and was inducted into the American University’s Stafford H. “Pop” Cassell Hall of Fame in 1996.
Shawn’s older brother, Kris, is a 2003 AU graduate and was co-captain of the 2002 Eagles squad. Finally, Shawn’s younger brother, JP, played for AU from 2004-2008.
Kuykendall finished his career ranked second in AU history in assists (29) and seventh in goals (23). Along with the all-time accolades, Kuykendall is the only Eagle to be named Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, as he won the award in 2004.