Kasey Simpson and the Lady Indians are under pressure to win the district after every other girls program besides tennis won district this school year. (Tennis finished second.) KellerPix Courtesy photo
Kasey Simpson and the Lady Indians are under pressure to win the district after every other girls program besides tennis won district this school year. (Tennis finished second.) KellerPix Courtesy photo

Keller Citizen

Pressure on for Keller softball to win district

The Lonnquist Notes, by Kevin Lonnquist

klonnquist@star-telegram.com

April 10, 2017 03:55 PM

Really, there’s no pressure on the Keller softball team for the rest of its season.

Really, there’s not an ounce of truth in that statement.

Based on the way things are going on around with Keller girls athletics, head coach Bryan Poehler and his team will understand that only the high-rent district will do.

Consider what has occurred during the 2016-2017 school year. With the exception of girls tennis, which finished second, every other girls sport has won the District 3-6A championship.

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However, that hasn’t been the stopping point:

▪  Cross country won the state title.

▪  Volleyball advanced to the Region I tournament.

▪  Basketball advanced to the Region I tournament.

▪  Now, soccer is going to the state tournament.

Of course, talent will always be the overriding factor. But a cohesive program can’t find success in each sport unless there is a good vibe, good coaching and the internal drive from each sport to get to that point. The programs also have a strong senior presence. Soccer has 13. Basketball had six. Volleyball played four.

When cross country did what it did, it created that belief in the other sports that they could do it, too. Once you get that taste, you’re not satisfied.

- Keller girls athletics coordinator Jamie Siegel

“It was funny, because [girls soccer coach] Billy Griffiths looked at us on Tuesday and asked if volleyball and basketball got to the regional tournament,” volleyball coach and girls athletics coordinator Jamie Siegel said. “We told him yes, and he just said OK. I’ve never been around an overall program that has done what this has done in one year.”

Few can deny what this season has meant at Keller High School. It’s never been this good. Keller girls athletics has always produced its fair share of quality teams. Of course, softball set the standard with its eight state tournament appearances.

To be honest, maybe softball was the one that ignited this run when it won the Class 6A state championship in early June of 2016.

When programs are on the verge of achieving great things, they just need that little break to put them over the edge. Keller girls cross country was in that position in 2015 when it finished third.

But the lessons learned translated into that something-extra in the second weekend of November when the team wound up winning the championship. That was the same weekend that Siegel’s volleyball team played in the Region I tournament. Everything became contagious after that.

“I really think it comes down to two things: work ethic and belief,” said Siegel, who is in her second year in both positions. “We have great coaches. But I think there’s been something where the coaches have done a great job of selling the culture and girls buying in.

“When cross country did what it did, it created that belief in the other sports that they could do it, too. Once you get that taste, you’re not satisfied.”

Keller didn’t have to look too far to see what the model of success was in girls athletics — Southlake Carroll. So that made the soccer team’s 2-0 Region I championship game victory over the Lady Dragons carry a lot of significance.

Victories like those can have an impact. It shows other sports that they can win as well and beat big-name programs.

But Keller will also get the advantage of having a true feeder program. It is in a position where it will be drawing only students from Keller Middle School and Indian Springs Middle School. The foundation of doing things the Keller way will start there.

“It’s great for the future, because they’re going to know what it’s all about being a Keller Indian,” Siegel said. “It’s about the buy-in. When that starts younger, it’s a great thing.”