Competitiveness drives Tribe's Keer
She is asked a question about being competitive.
And before she answers, a wry little grin appears.
The grin eventually becomes a full-fledged smile the kind of smile that says the level of her competition on a scale from 1 to 10 is actually a 12.
So it's not surprising when she replies.
"I'm very competitive," said Lehighton field hockey standout Sarah Keer. "I think that's because I come from a family where everyone played sports.
"With my brothers liking football, I liked football and would challenge them. Even in PlayStation games or anything we get competitive. I remember when I was a little girl and I was playing soccer I would get mad if we lost. I just wanted to win all the time."
Keer's competitive drive is not uncommon among many athletes. But when it's combined with her other talents, her play is second to none.
Blessed with a powerful shot and an aggressive nature, the senior posted an impressive 24 goals and seven assists this past season. Thanks to that performance, the Temple-bound Keer has been named a repeat winner of the TIMES NEWS Field Hockey Player of the Year.
"She definitely does not like to lose," said Indian head coach Lamar Long. "She has incredible heart and loves to compete. She hates losing so much that she has to be careful it doesn't affect her play in a bad way.
"She's really talented. She's a strong player, she's really fast with the ball and her shot is incredible. She has a lot of strength on her shot. I would say it's harder than mine. Most other girls can't come close to it. The average shot is probably in the 40-50 mph range."
Keer's blast has been clocked at 62 miles per hour, a speed that won her the fastest shot event at a summer camp at the University of North Carolina. Despite earning that title and producing goals at just over one a game, some publications claim Stroudsburg's Nicole DeLuca has the hardest shot around.
That statement, obviously, doesn't sit well with Keer.
"I think it just comes natural," said Keer about her shot. "I just hit the ball hard. It was said (DeLuca) could hit the ball harder than me, but I'd like to challenge her. I know I wouldn't want to be a goalie (in front of one of my shots)."
Throughout her career, Keer fired a number of shots past opposing goalies. Her 24 this past year allowed her to finish with a total of 51. The four-year varsity player also collected 21 assists.
"Since my freshman year, I've wanted to score over 50 goals in my high school career," said Keer. "I didn't really know where I was at the beginning of this year and I just started scoring goal after goal after goal. It felt good. I got the ball a lot more than I have in the past but I don't think I was necessarily the go-to person. I think people passed it more to me because they knew they could rely on me or I'd make the right pass, get a shot or force a corner."
"She's a good leader and her teammates look up to her." said Long. "She was basically the backbone of our offense and was voted our offensive MVP. Without her we wouldn't have scored as many goals as we did."
Despite her individual success, the team didn't enjoy a banner season. Lehighton was able to post an 8-4 mark in the Mountain Valley Conference but was only 10-11 overall.
"It was hard," said Keer. "I would have rather had a more successful season (as a team) than a more successful season for myself. It stinks, for a lack of a better term.
"The State championship (my freshman year) was definitely the highlight of my career. This past year, I think my favorite game was the one against East Stroudsburg South. They were beating us 1-0 and we came down the field with like 10 seconds left and got a corner. I got the ball and took a shot and Sage (Terembula) had this sick kiss into the top corner of the cage to tie it up. We went into overtime ... and we got a corner. I got the ball again and scored. That's the one that stuck out to me the most."
Keer is hoping her play will also stand out at the collegiate level. After narrowing her choices to Michigan State and Temple, she recently made her decision to head to Philadelphia.
"I never thought about going Division 1, that's a big thing," said Keer, who will be majoring in either sports and recreation management or business. "I don't think it'll really sink in until the first day I get on the field at Temple. It was a hard decision. My parents (Tom and Christine) were hoping I'd go to Temple so they could see my games."
"Skill-wise I think she's more than ready to compete at the next level," said Long. " ... I have full confidence that she's going to do well at the next level."
Something that will, no doubt, follow her to college is her style of play. Always one to wear her emotions on her sleeve, Keer hopes she can keep them in check but still harness them to become a valuable member of the Owls.
"I'm aggressive. I just always want the ball," said Keer. "I guess I'm not really afraid to go get it or do whatever it takes to get the ball. The Temple coach (Amanda Janney) always tells me how excited she is about how aggressive I am and that I'm not afraid to shoot. She likes my shot on corners.
"My emotions go hand-in-hand with the way I play. If I'm angry, I might get a card, which isn't good. If I'm in a good mood and everything's going all right I usually play pretty well."