Youth soccer leaders retire

By: Leah Rosasco, Loomis News Correspondent
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After decades of dedicated community service, two Loomis youth soccer leaders are retiring their cleats.

Bill Keller, manager, and Mike Schmidt, coach and coach coordinator, will be vacating their positions with Loomis Youth Soccer Club next week.  Keller will stay on as treasurer, but Schmidt will step away from the organization.

Keller, who balanced his Loomis soccer duties with a full-time career as a financial manager, first got involved with the organization in 1991, when his eight-year-old daughter began playing soccer.

In 1996, he became the soccer club’s manager, a post he held until 2000, and then held again from 2005 until now, although his own kids have long since moved on.

Keller said his wife, Janet, has helped him coach for several years.

“I didn’t imagine I would be part of it for this long, but I really enjoyed being part of the club, so I stayed on,” Keller said.

Keller estimates he has spent anywhere from three to 20 hours per month on soccer work, depending on the time of year.  He credits his fellow soccer volunteers for helping him.

“The people who work with me are very hard working and they really make my job easy,” Keller said.

Although he is looking forward to his new role as treasurer, Keller said he believes the time is right for him to vacate the manager position.

“It’s time for someone with new ideas, and their own kids, to get involved,” Keller said.

Like Keller, Schmidt’s six children also made their way through the organization and have moved on. One of Schmidt’s daughters played alongside Keller’s daughter when they were kids. Schmidt said he continued as coaching coordinator because he believes it is important for everyone to take an active role in helping the youth in any community.

“We’ve all got to give back in order for a community to work,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said before he became involved with the Loomis league, soccer was not his passion and he was not enthusiastic when a friend asked him to coach a soccer team.

“I thought, ‘I don’t even like soccer,’” Schmidt said. “But I decided to step up and it’s been a great experience.”

Schmidt said he’ll miss the interaction he has with people in the community, but he feels good about what he’s contibuted.

“It’s such a great feeling to see people who played soccer as kids, now thriving in the community as adults,” Schmidt said. “I know I had mentors who helped me when I was a kid and I hope I have done the same.”

Kim Mann, co-registrar for the organization, said although Keller and Schmidt each bring a unique set of skills and style to the organization, their dedication and hard work will be missed. Mann said Keller’s strength as manager is his positive attitude and his flexibility.

“His attitude is that it really is all about the kids and it always shows,” she said.

Mann also said her efforts to fill coaching vacancies would have been more challenging without Schmidt, who was her “go-to guy” when she couldn’t get people to sign up as a coach.

“I would turn them over to Mike and they always ended up signing up,” Mann said.

Although the organization is focused on soccer, Mann said it’s also about teaching kids about sportsmanship and showing them the importance of being involved in their community.

“What makes Loomis special is the sense of community and the volunteers,” Mann said. “These guys are a great example of that.”

Mann said the organization is holding an Awards Banquet, honoring players, coaches, and Keller and Schmidt at 6 p.m., Tuesday Nov.13, at the Blue Goose.