Decision turns out right for Keer
Photo illustration by BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
Sarah Keer didn't agree with her parents and she made that perfectly clear.
But as a seventh grader, Keer didn't have the final say.
So she reluctantly signed up to play junior high field hockey at Lehighton.
It turned out to be one of the best decisions she 'never' made.
Four years later, Keer has joined a long list of outstanding Indian field hockey players. She now plays the sport year round and has an ever-growing list of Division I schools pursuing her.
This past season, the junior forward had nine goals and six assists to lead her team in scoring. Her outstanding play throughout the season earned her the 2011 TIMES NEWS Field Hockey Player of the Year award.
But if Sarah had her way, the awards, the honors and the scholarship offers might have never materialized.
That's because she initially wanted nothing to do with field hockey.
A standout athlete, Keer had success in a number of sports growing up, including soccer, baseball, basketball, track and gymnastics.
"It's funny thinking back on how I got started playing field hockey," said Keer. "I didn't want to play, but my parents kept pushing me. I loved the sports I was playing at the time, especially soccer, and I really didn't want to try a new sport.
"Eventually, they made me sign up and try it. I was mad because I didn't even know what field hockey was at the time."
That quickly changed.
"I think I fell in love with field hockey after one practice," said Keer. "I remember thinking, 'I'm really glad I listened to mom and dad.'"
Keer made an instant impact in the sport. She was moved up from the seventh grade team to the eighth grade team midway through her first year playing the sport. The success continued on the high school level where she broke into the starting lineup as a freshman. Surrounded with incredible talent Keer played with four Division 1 college players during her first two years she was a major contributor to Indian teams that made it to back-to-back state championship games.
"To play in state championship games each of my first two years in high school was incredible," said Keer. "I was surrounded by so many great players and got a chance to learn so much from the upperclassmen my first two years.
"I also had great coaching. Coach [Shawn] Hindy had so much knowledge about the game and was such a great teacher and motivator. I owe him a tremendous amount of credit for improving my game."
Keer's game continued to improve this season as she posted career-high offensive numbers.
"Sarah was a major part of what we did offensively this year," said first-year Lehighton field hockey coach Lamar Long. "Her speed, strength and ball handling ability are outstanding.
"As well as she played this year, I expect her to be even better next year. When you combine her athletic ability with her hard work and tremendous attitude, there is no doubt that she has unlimited potential. I expect great things from her in the future."
Despite Keer's impressive season, the Indians weren't able to duplicate the type of team success they enjoyed her freshman and sophomore campaigns.
After losing a combined total of just four games during the previous two seasons, Lehighton saw its record slip to 9-9-3 this year. The Indians came up short in their bid to make it back to the state playoffs as they were eliminated in the District 11 Class AA semifinals by Southern Lehigh.
"It was a tough season," said Keer. "I didn't know how to react to losing. All the success we experienced my first two years made this season difficult and frustrating."
Keer doesn't plan on letting that disappointment repeat itself next season.
A captain on this year's squad, Keer likes the leadership role she now has with the team.
"I'm already looking forward to next season," she said. "I think we all know what we need to do to fix what went wrong this season.
"The team is already working hard to turn things around and I'm confident that we will do that."
Keer is also at the point in her career where colleges are showing plenty of interest.
Among the schools vying for her services are Temple, Michigan State, Louisville, Penn State, Northwestern, Lehigh, Holy Cross and Albany.
"I've been hearing from a lot of schools and I'm definitely going to be visiting a number of them before I make any decisions," said Keer. "The one thing I'm sure of is that I definitely want to play at the next level. I love field hockey so much."
Looking back, it's obvious that mom and dad definitely knew best.