Elco girls' soccer coach Steve Keller, far left, retired on Thursday after four seasons leading the Raiders. Keller, a 1975 Elco graduate, guided the girls to four-consecutive district appearances and a pair of state playoff berths. (FILE PHOTO)
MYERSTOWN - In four short seasons as head coach, Elco girls' soccer guru Steve Keller accomplished more than most coaches do in a career.

Keller, a lifelong Raider, guided the program to four straight District Three playoff appearances and a pair of PIAA postseason berths. He also earned his second Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Coach of the Year award after leading the girls to a Section Three crown this fall.

On Thursday, Keller officially retired from his role after seven years on the sidelines in Myerstown. The Schaefferstown native departs with a 57-30-1 head coaching record since taking over for current Raider boy's boss Kirk Keppley.

Keller had served as assistant for the Raiders boys' and girls' soccer programs for three years prior to being hired for the girls' job in the spring of 2010.

"It was a tough decision, but it was the right decision," Keller said Thursday evening. "I didn't leave for any issues as far as frustration. It was a perfect situation and a perfect school to coach at. I just thought it was time."

A 1975 Elco alum, Keller informed his players Monday in order to be certain they learned first-hand of his intentions.

"I enjoyed it, especially being with the kids and teaching them not only soccer, but the lessons of life," he said. "Hopefully, they are better people compared to if they didn't play soccer for those four years. ... I'm really going to miss them. I'll be following their careers.



Happily married to his wife Sandra for 26 years, Keller plans on spending his new-found free time keeping up his family, including his son Adam, a 2009 Elco grad who went on to play on the pitch at Millersville. He will also continue to work at Keller Brothers Ford in Lebanon, where he has been employed for the past 35 years.

"I felt there are so many other things that I want to accomplish in my lifetime - that was part of it," he added. "Even though soccer season is only two or three months, it's a year-long commitment.

It's a big commitment."

Keller played an integral part in the success of the Myerstown Soccer Club's youth program - Elco United - serving as a coach for several of the age-group based travel teams for boys and girls over 8 in the district. Coupled with a dedicated group of assistants, volunteers and parents, Keller doesn't expect the program to skip a beat without him.

"With so many kids involved (in Elco United), it will go on for a long way," he said. "And I see a great generation of young coaches coming. ... There is going to be a coach better than me that will step up and take over. I have no doubts whoever comes in will be the perfect person to replace me - I'm hoping it's an Elco grad."

The Raiders finished 12-5 overall this fall and as the L-L's Section Three champs. The season ended in heart-breaking fashion with a 2-1 double overtime loss to Brandywine Heights in the District Three Class AA quarterfinal. Individually, Keller was once again named the section's top coach, duplicating his effort from last spring.

"I was honored, humbled and surprised my fellow coaches thought that of me. It was kind of cool," said Keller, assisted by Katie Lamm and Robert Smith. "But it wasn't about any personal achievements, it was about being a part of their careers and journey. Down the road, I'd rather be remembered by (the student-athletes) for something they learned beyond soccer, beyond the game. That's what it's all about.

"Like how to be a teammate, expecting quality and working hard. That kind of stuff will help in the workforce."

Keller also mentioned the pride and tradition associated with coaching at Elco.

"Lyle Krall in baseball, Jay Miller and Barney Hoffman (in soccer); it's a legacy, and it goes deeper than just high school sports," he said. "Even the volunteers that take the time - they all remember what Elco meant to them."