ACS: Michael Keeran, Western Illinois

Michael Keeran
Western Illinois University; Macomb, Illinois
Offical Bio
Hometown: Clear Lake, Iowa
Education: Waldorf University
Twitter: @coachkeeran07

The moment you first realized that you might like to make coaching part of your career.

I always had a feeling and knew it was something I wanted to do after my playing career. I think when I knew I wanted to make it a career was when I got into coaching and coached at my high school (Clear Lake HS) with the head coach who coached me. He was a mentor to me, and I appreciated the chance he took on me as a young first-year coach. He gave me autonomy and did not micromanage me, yet he always put me in a position to succeed. The emotions I felt that first year of coaching, I knew it was going to be my career and the reason why I was put on this earth (to coach & mentor). The instant success made it sort of an addiction as well, we went 38-3 with an IHSAA State Championship. I was sort of given the blueprint on how to win at a high level and what championship standards look like.

Outside of mentors, talk about one or more ways you’ve learned some aspect of coaching.

For me personally, the best way I learn is to kinesthetically do it. I got the opportunity to be a summer collegiate head coach in 2018 at age 24. The league owner and team owner took a chance on a young guy — and I am still very grateful and fortunate for that opportunity. It helped me with mass recruiting (25-man roster from scratch), building a coaching staff and assigning roles, gameday operations, meeting with community supporters, host families, and running a ball club from start to finish. It forced me to grow up, mature mentally and emotionally, and have a lot of responsibility. There was a lot of pressure being the “head guy”, but pressure can be good and fun. I was very fortunate to be around really good assistants and players and we ended up 33-5 with a league championship. That summer gave me a lot of confidence.

Tony Wolfe talks about Goals vs. Purpose. Kevin Wilson calls it your “Why”. What is your purpose or “why” for coaching?

I think my why for coaching is to help players reach their highest potential. A lot of players I have coached needed help in learning what it takes to be successful at that level, rather than having to teach them much from a physical standpoint. Whether that was learning to be accountable, learning that strength & conditioning and mental conditioning are important, and learning what type of preparation it took to be successful on a team level and personal level. There are a lot of things to learn to be successful and it can be “boring”, but boring wins.

The best feeling in the world is seeing all the players’ hard work pay off at the end of the season, but those moments are not possible without the lessons taught & learned during the off-season.

If you could go back to your rookie coach self and give one piece of advice, what would it be?

I think it would be to just relax and that the championships and W/L don’t define you as a person. I think for a while I would live and die emotionally too much with games. Winning felt too much like a sense of relief instead of joy. I would definitely tell myself to enjoy it more and relax.

Best advice ever received.

Best advice I ever received was to leave things better than you found it. Every program/organization that I have been a part of, my last season with them has been a championship. I want every place that I leave to be in a position to succeed for a long time. I don’t believe in leaving a place until you accomplish the goals you have set.

What is one thing you didn’t know (or fully understand) about what coaches do before you got into coaching?

The administrative side and how much of the administrative side there is. Fundraising, camps, travel & budgeting, equipment order, compliance & recruiting. None of that involves coaching on a baseball field, but it is extremely important to be great at those to have a championship-level program.

Your dream lunch date. One coach. Any sport. Any level. Living or dead. Who is it?

Probably Wayne Graham. The guy is a winner and was successful at every level he coached at (HS, JUCO, NCAA D1). Had a very similar path that I am on from coaching HS to then JUCO baseball, and now NCAA D1 baseball. He had 1600 wins and created a powerhouse at every level he was at. Would just be an honor to meet him and learn from him.

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