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Warwick grad hired to coach MC field hockey
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Becca Keener considers herself fortunate.
During her high school field hockey career, the 2008 Warwick grad played for one coach.
Unfortunately, for those who have come through the Manheim Central program in recent years, that hasn’t been the case.
But Keener, who was approved as the Lady Barons’ new field hockey coach at the Manheim Central school board meeting on Tuesday, May 29, is hoping to provide some consistency for the maroon and silver.
She replaces Sam Shober at the helm of the program and becomes Central’s fourth coach in the last four years — and their fifth since the end of the 2004 season.
"They can just never really get someone to stay, so I’m hoping to be that force that will stay awhile and really build the program so they can be successful," Keener said. "I always had a consistent coach and I was fortunate, so I can really understand how it’s been very difficult for them."
Keener also played for just one coach at Temple University, from where she graduated in May. While there, she was a two-time Atlantic-10 Second-Team selection playing in 74 games during her four-year career.
Describing field hockey as a "passion," the 22-year-old Keener is excited for the opportunity to step into the coaching ranks.
"I just didn’t want to be done with field hockey," said Keener, who is competing with a USA Athletes International team in Australia at the end of July. "I’ve always been a student-athlete, so I wanted to be a teacher-coach. It’s always been real important to me to stay with it. I’m real excited."
The fact that she is able stay close to home is an added bonus.
"For me, I love to coming back to this area, where hockey is popular," Keener remarked. "Not that it’s a big deal, but it’s not like moving (out of the area). I would rather come back here. It’s close to my connections who can help me through getting to be a good coach. It’s always been my home, so it’s nice to come back and call it home again."
Keener inherits a Manheim Central squad which advanced to the District Three Double-A quarterfinals and then to the PIAA State playoffs in 2011 while finishing 13-11.
The Lady Barons’ new skipper met with her players and parents last Thursday and said that the session went very well.
"They were really receptive and I met with the seniors," Keener said. "Some of them were at the softball playoffs (playing for the District title), of course, but the group of girls I did meet with, they were great girls and they were really excited about the stuff I had to say. It went really well."
It was at that meeting that Keener handed out summer workout packets and talked with her troops about the expectations that she will have from a fitness standpoint when pre-season practices get underway this August. Among the players’ requirements will be to run a 7:30 mile.
"I just think it’s going to be a little different than what they’re used to," Keener said. "Personally, I just think having a certain level of fitness for a healthy lifestyle is good for the girls too. It’s just something I really want to have them start with over the summer, and even if their skills aren’t there yet, if they’re fit, I can work with that. I’m just trying to set them up for success and have them be ready."
Keener is also hoping to have a lot of success with a coaching philosophy which stresses teamwork and team unity.
"I just don’t want any dribble queens on my team, really," she said. "I want to teach them how to pass the ball, how to move the ball, and on defense, how to work as a team to win the ball. The first person might not win the ball, but if they can put enough pressure on that another teammate can win it, that’s a win for the team. So I don’t want anyone to think they have to do it all. Something I learned is how important it is to be teammates on and off the field. That’s a big part of being successful."
Keener credited her father, Craig, for playing a big role in her success in field hockey, working with her in the backyard to help make her a better player. Warwick icon Bob Derr is someone else who had a big impact on her development. In fact, Keener had been emailing with her former coach in the weeks leading up to being officially approved for the Manheim Central position. Keener is Derr’s 37th former player to become a coach at the scholastic or collegiate level.
"(Coach Derr) wanted to help me plan," Keener said. "He wants everyone to be successful and he likes good competition and he likes to have girls be good — it doesn’t matter what school. He’s mentored me a lot as a coach and I think that will really help me when I go to coach (at Manheim Central)."
Although pre-season workouts get underway in just over two months, Keener feels like she is already ahead of schedule. With much of the staff returning, including varsity assistant Becca Yerkes, and with having a head start on planning practices in August, she is looking forward to getting started.
"Just because I’ve done it so long on the other end, I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work and I’ve coached camps and stuff," Keener said. "I feel so ready. I guess college hockey even took it further into helping me develop into a strong confident woman and it really did play a big role in me becoming who I am today. Those four hard, tough years of college D-I hockey, that really taught you a lot. I just feel like I could take on anything right now. So I’m ready for it." More KEENER, page B-4