Keller's 300th win ranks second, but to her players, she's definitely No. 1
May 5, 2010
Phil Brozynski, Media Relations Manager
Benedictine University softball coach Kate Keller does not count victories, nor does she keep track of the many lives she has touched, although both number in the hundreds.
“I never think about (the number of victories),” she said.
Keller is not counting, but it is difficult to ignore a career that now includes 300 wins in 12 seasons at Benedictine University. She reached the milestone Saturday, May 1 when the Lady Eagles rallied to defeat Marian University 3-2 in Fond Du Lac, Wis.
Keller ranks as the second-winningest coach in Benedictine softball history. She trails only Deb DiMatteo, who won 331 games. Keller played two years for DiMatteo while a student-athlete at Benedictine.
“She was pretty good,” Keller said. “When somebody told me that I trailed only her, I took that as a compliment.”
Keller’s 2010 squad has made some history of its own, sweeping Milwaukee School of Engineering May 2 to win an outright Northern Athletics Conference (NAC) regular-season title. The Lady Eagles (34-5, 23-1 in the NAC), ranked eighth in the Great Lakes Region, will be the top seed at the NAC tournament this weekend at Alverno College.
There is no secret to Benedictine’s success under Keller. She treats her players like people.
“One of the biggest things about her (Keller) is that she is so personable, so easy to get along with,” said sophomore infielder Brittany Wolski (Orland Park, Sandburg H.S.). “You can talk to her about anything – school, home life, your financial situation or softball. I’m a big fan of that…how open we can be with her.”
“When we step on the field, it’s down to business,” added sophomore pitcher Brittany Adcox (Plainfield, Plainfield Central H.S.). “But the fact that she’s easy to approach makes it easier to admit your mistake if you mess up and talk to her about what you need to fix, rather than being afraid to own up.”
Keller, on the other hand, unhesitatingly credits her players – past and present – for the success she has enjoyed.
“A huge reason why we have been so successful is that I have an unbelievable group of ladies,” Keller said. “Against Aurora University, we’re down 6-1 and I’m having a heart attack at third base. But it doesn’t faze them. They’re not scared. They’re not afraid.
“That comes with knowing how to treat each other,” Keller said. “There’s only so much a coach can do. What sets these ladies apart is their character, heart and cohesiveness.”
Keller has not only had a positive influence on her players and made a tremendous impact on the softball field, she has inspired her co-workers and the Benedictine University community.
“Kate has had a tremendous presence in our athletic department, first as an outstanding student-athlete and as an incredible coach, leader, and role model for many of our student-athletes,” said Director of Athletics Mark McHorney. “Her leadership of our softball program is evidenced by the tremendous success it has had on the field and in the classroom.
“Winning 300 games is a tremendous achievement, and we could not be more proud of that as well as the example she provides for our athletes, students and staff,” he added.
Benedictine’s softball team will seek the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Softball Tournament when it opens NAC tournament play at 9:00 a.m. Friday, May 7. The Lady Eagles are seeking their first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2002.
Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the sixth consecutive year in 2016. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ben.edu.