Subject Line (article title)
Send to (required)E-mail
Send from (required)E-mail
You won't find a lot of girls playing three sports these days.
And if you do, you won't find many as successful as Morgan Keller in her four years at Rolling Meadows High School.
After playing underlevel volleyball as a freshman, Keller went on to earn 11 straight varsity letters competing at volleyball, basketball and track and field.
Not to mention she made an impact every season.
"The hardest part was doing all of my homework, getting sleep, and staying organized," said Keller, who will study at Illinois State where she earned a track and field scholarship.
"The schedule was hard, going from school, to practice and games, then coming home and finishing all of my homework. It was the same schedule almost every day."
And her coaches were getting the same thing every day -- total dedication. One consequence of that focus in Keller's selection as the Daily Herald's Northwest female athlete of the year.
"Morgan committed herself to becoming a better player," said Mustangs girls volleyball coach Joe Di Silvio. "She was always looking for coaching tips on ways to improve. She left a legacy for both the Rolling Meadows athletic department as well as the community and her commitment to all three sports will be missed."
Keller will miss all her coaches.
"I was never alone in all of my successes," she said. "There was always someone behind me, pushing, testing, coaching, but most of all, supporting me. I have been so blessed with family, friends, coaches, a school, a community, all allowing me to be the best I could be.
"The best part was getting so close to your teammates," she said. "They become some of your best friends and now I have friends all over. The other best part is that I get to do what I loved every day, all year long."
And she did it as one of the best athletes in school history.
Keller earned state medals in basketball and track and field.
She was an all-stater in track and field in 2010 (eight in the shot put), 2011 (third place in shot and sixth in discus), 2012 (third in shot and fourth in discus) and 2013 (third in shot and second in discus).
She is also a two-time Mid-Suburban League discus champion and this year's MSL shot put champ, along with winning sectional shot and discus championships the last two years.
Track and field will be the sport Keller continues with at Illinois State, where she plans to study kinesiology, psychology or education.
"I'm not exactly sure which one yet," Keller said. "But I would love to coach and all of these would be beneficial to coaching."
This winter, Keller played a key role for the Mustangs girls basketball team which finished second to Marian Catholic in the Class 4A state finals.
In volleyball, she was an all-area middle blocker this season.
Whether it was volleyball, basketball or track and field, Keller had the same passion for each sport.
"I don't have a favorite sport, it's which ever I'm most active in at the time," Keller said. "I used to play other sports during my middle school and before but then the schedule became too rigorous to keep up."
She kept up splendidly in high school with her three sports.
She calls her greatest moment in the four years was when her basketball team made it to the Class 4A championship.
"I knew we would go far but we went farther than I could have ever imagined," said Keller, who provided her team key inside play with her rebounding and shooting. "It was the greatest ending to my basketball career that I ever could have asked for."
Mustangs girls basketball coach Ryan Kirkorsky could not have asked for more from Keller.
"Morgan is the strongest player I've coached," said Kirkorsky, who guided the team to a school record 30 wins. "She has great hands and feet and a nice soft touch around the basket.
"Morgan sacrificed so much for our team. She was one of the most talented players in the conference but she relished her role as the sixth man on our team."
Whenever Keller entered the game, she made an immediate impact.
"Without her presence, we wouldn't have accomplished what we did this year," Kirkorsky added. "Above all, Morgan is an exceptional student-athlete who cares for her teammates and always makes the goals of her team the priority."
That is what you will hear from all her coaches.
In volleyball, she led the Mustangs with 214 kills (214) while hitting at an amazing .341 efficiency.
She was second on the team in blocks with 72.
"That made her almost unstoppable at the net," DiSilvio said. "However, the ability Morgan possesses to anticipate what is going to happen on the other side of the net made her into one heck of a volleyball player.
"Her strength and height helped, but Morgan always seemed to outsmart her opponents with a quick change of direction on the ball or well-timed tip."
In track and field, Keller's skills with the shot put and discus got better each season.
"Morgan has been a great kid to work with over the past four years," said assistant coach Charlie Henry. "She was blessed with an incredible talent. She was blessed with a rare combination of size, speed, and agility. The shot and disc just explode out of her hand."
Henry worked hard to develop her talent over the last few years.
"She has always had the live arm but she's really worked to improve her footwork," he said. "This is the biggest improvement I have seen in her since ninth grade.
"Her parents (David and Stephanie) are also a big reason she is so successful. They do a great job supporting her. They are at every event and do so much to support all the teams Morgan is on throughout the year. "
Henry saw great strides in Keller to become a true competitor the last few years.
"As a freshman, she just got by on talent, but as she got more experience, she began to learn how to prepare and get ready for competition," Henry said. "These were some of the big improvements she made this year as she finished up her record breaking career."
A career that Keller didn't imagine when she began at Meadows four years ago.
"I was hoping that I would get a few letters toward the end, but I didn't think 11," she said.
Keller credits the competition she faced as an inspiration to get better.
"There was always someone around to push me," Keller said. "Emmonniee (Henderson of Edwardsville), Banke (Oginni of Hoffman Estates), Precious (Precious Ogunleye of Hoffman Estates), Erin (Reese of Prospect) and all the other talented girls in the state (track and field), made me push myself during the season and off-season if I wanted to be good. As everyone else gets better, you need to better yourself and push yourself even harder than they are if you want to be the best."
Being a three-sport athlete, Keller was able to work to get stronger in many different ways.
"It wasn't just bulking for track," she said. "You also need speed and agility for volleyball, too. Pushing to be the best can never be a bad thing. I can never be satisfied until I am the best."
Keller sure was one of the best all-time athletes to wear the Mustangs colors.