CHUCK KEENER: Kickstarted Prep Soccer In Brevard, Proposed Sport To Cape Coast Conference In 1976
By Maria Sonnenberg // April 14, 2017
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
USPT TOURING COACH
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – “Versatile” is the word that perhaps best describes coach extraordinaire and 2017 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame honoree Chuck Keener.
He can obviously coach tennis, since he was named the U.S. Professional Tennis Association Touring Coach in 2007 and 2008, awards that followed on the heels of the USPT’s High School Tennis Coach of the Year kudos in 2005 and 2006.
Even before these distinctions, Keener had been singled out not once, but three times, as the All Cape Coast Conference Tennis Coach of the Year in 1982 and 1983, and again in 2006.
Speaking of ’82 and ’83, Keener was additionally named All Space Coast Tennis Coach of the Year those two golden years.
That’s not all, folks. Keener has also coached football, baseball, soccer, club soccer and golf throughout his long career in sports.
It all started at Syracuse University when the Albany, New York, native played football before breaking his leg.
“Syracuse is the snowiest college campus in America and it’s pretty tough to maneuver snow on crutches,” said the Melbourne resident, who had to take some time off before heading back to school, this time at the College of New Jersey in Trenton.
Lady Luck must have felt sorry for his bad break at snowy Syracuse, because in 1974, he was offered a football coaching position in sun-drenched Merritt Island.
“I initially got hired to coach football, but then the principal asked me if I would like to coach tennis,” said Keener.
He had originally picked up tennis because of the broken leg.
“It was hard to get 22 people together to play football, but it was easy to get another player to play tennis,” said Keener. “I started recreationally, but I was soon addicted.”
FIRST SOCCER COACH
After getting into the professional tennis registry, Keener began coaching tennis, first with the boys’ team, together with JV football at Merritt Island High School in the 1970s.
He then went to Palm Bay High School in the mid 1970s as the first soccer coach in Brevard, and is the man who kickstarted soccer in the county by proposing high school soccer to a general meeting of the Cape Coast Conference coaches in 1976. Keener then coached Palm Bay’s inaugural boys’ soccer team.
By the way, his older son, Brett, later coached soccer at the same school his dad did.
During the 1980s, Keener coached girls’ tennis and varsity boys’ soccer at Palm Bay and girls’ tennis at Cocoa Beach High School. From tennis, he segued into baseball in the 1990s, coaching the Brevard Marlins AAU baseball and Brevard Community College’s women’s tennis.
‘I LOVE WORKING WITH KIDS’
With the arrival of the 21st century came coaching girls’ golf at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, plus girls’ tennis at Eau Gallie High School. In 2010, he returned to soccer at West Shore, serving as goalkeeper coach and assistant coach.
Three years ago, he retired from coaching, but two kids in college, plus the love of teaching, translated into a part-time guidance counselor job at Cocoa Beach High.
His son, Drew, a junior at West Shore, is outstanding in both soccer and tennis, so Keener is happy to be his personal coach. “Coaching is my passion,” said Keener. “I love working with kids.”
THE 2017 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 12.
FOR INFORMATION ABOUT the 2017 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME, call 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com
CLICK HERE to see all the members of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Announced, Induction Ceremony Set May 12
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame selection committee announced Thursday an impressive array of outstanding individuals to be inducted into the 2017 Class of the Hall of Fame.
Dozens of nominees were considered for the 2017 class in four categories including professional sports, college sports, high school sports and amateur sports.
Special honorary recognition will also be bestowed upon individuals and teams that have made significant contributions to sports on the Space Coast.
Space Coast Daily created the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, and has so far inducted more than 100 of Brevard County’s most outstanding athletes, coaches and sports personalities.
Serving on the committee are Space Coast Daily President & Publisher Tom Palermo, Vice President Giles Malone, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo, Managing Editor Zach Clark, Assistant Editor Alan Zlotorzynski, local youth sports advocate and promoter Mike Cadore, Friday Night Locker Room Founders Steve Wilson and Orville Susong, former Health First COO Larry Garrison, Cocoa Beach City Manager Jim McKnight and AAU Vice President Rusty Buchanan.
“The list of inductees for 2017 induction include athletes and coaches everybody knows – and some that may have been forgotten with the passing of time,” said Tom Palermo.
INDUCTION GALA & SPORTS AWARDS SET FOR MAY 12
The 2017 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet and Sports Awards will be held Friday, May 12 at the Cocoa Beach County Club.
The festivities include a meet and greet with the area’s sports royalty, dinner and the induction proceeding which includes compelling video tributes of each of the inductees.
The 2017 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame induction event, and the 2017 High School Breakfast of Champions recognition awards, are sponsored by Community Credit Union, First Choice Medical Group, SOAR, Clear Choice Health Care, BioCellular Therapies, Savings Safari, Spectrum Sports, Friday Night Locker Room, Dr. Sangiv Patel, Dr. Mark Pinsky and Rock Paper Simple..
FOR INFORMATION about the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame, or to make a reservation, e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com or call 321-615-8111.
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Tim Wakefield talks about his induction into the first class of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2017
• PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Joe Kohlbrand, Football; and Cory Philpot, Football
• COLLEGE CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Jason Arnold, Baseball; Michael Coffey, Bowling; Reggie Hannah, Basketball; Paige Kearns, Swimming; and Charles Wilson, Football.
• PREP CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Kristen Gordon, Softball; Ray Herring, Jr. Football; Katie Jackson, Soccer; and Hunter Pingston, Football.
• AMATEUR/REC CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Richard Chapman, Little League; Todd Erickson, Softball; Al Genchi, Youth Soccer; and David Kilgore, Running.
• COACHING CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Skip Arrich, Soccer; Tom Dooley, Baseball; Chuck Keener, Tennis; Steve Lamontagne, Golf; and Mike Soliven, Basketball.
• SPORTS DEVELOPMENT INDUCTEES: Jeff Carr, Eastern Florida State College; and Steve Englehart, Florida Tech.
• LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT INDUCTEES: Linda Anderson, Athletic Director; and Les Stafford, Volunteer
• SPORTS OFFICIALS INDUCTEES: Neely Dunn and Bob Walton.
• SPORTS JOURNALISM INDUCTEES: Hillard Grossman.
• SPORTS AMBASSADOR AWARD INDUCTEE : Gary Gregory, PAL Boxing.
• CHALLENGER AWARDS INDUCTEES: Brevard Special Olympics – Coach Cindy Dropeski, Athlete Chuck Conway and Volunteer Kathi Madden.
• TEAM OF THE YEAR: Cocoa High School 2016 Football State Champions.
• SPECIAL TRIBUTE: Jim Grimes, Basketball, Eastern Florida State College
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE MEMBERS OF THE SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME