On Tuesday night, Butch Keller reached an impressive milestone: his 600th career win as a boys basketball coach.
In a 66-50 win over Crystal Springs Uplands, the Eagles brought home the benchmark in Keller’s 31st season as a coach. In 2007, after 25-plus years coaching in Virginia, where he racked up eight state finals appearances, won three state championships and was named Coach of the Year a wondrous 18 times, Keller and wife, Jane, a upper school math teacher, came to Harker. Keller began coaching Harker’s boys basketball in 2011.
Amazingly, Keller’s 600 wins do not even include his AAU, summer league or girls basketball wins. “Six hundred is just a number, a big number, but just a number nonetheless,” said Keller, also Harker’s upper division head, with characteristic humility. “It means I have been coaching a long time.”
Over the years, what has continued to impress Keller is the athletes he has coached. “I have been blessed with the opportunity to coach a lot of incredible young men for 31 seasons. The work ethic, attitude and talent that they bring to the sport has made coaching an incredible privilege,” stated Keller. “The wins, championships and accolades are all a by-product of the process and relationships.”
Student athletes spoke to Keller’s leadership skills. Tri-captain Eric Jeong, grade 11, scored a team-high 17 points in the win over CSU and was quick to point out the bond between Keller and his players. “Coach Keller always has great relationships with every player on the team,” said Jeong. “He knows how to get the best out of every player and always encourages us to be ourselves on the court.”
Jordan Goheen, grade 12, added, “What impresses me the most about Mr. Keller is that he genuinely cares about each player on the team.”
Being a coach requires a lot of extra time on nights and weekends, and Keller said he couldn’t do it without his family. “The support that I have received from everyone in the schools I have worked has been phenomenal, but the biggest thing has been the support I have always had from my family,” said Keller. “My family has sacrificed a lot to allow me to coach and I am very grateful.”
And there are a thousand young men who played under Keller who are grateful, too. Heartfelt congratulations, Coach Keller, and unending thanks for your time and dedication; Harker is fortunate to have you. Here’s to many more wins with the Eagles!