Chesapeake solidified one coach’s home and gave a new home to another.
Ryan Keeter, son and former assistant of girls soccer coach Kevin Keeter, will lead the boys soccer program, the school announced Friday.
“The whole soccer program is now in one family,” athletic director Chip Snyder said.
Meanwhile, Kaitlyn Hines will take over Chesapeake’s girls lacrosse program. Hines led her alma mater Severna Park for seven seasons, winning two state titles, earning four championship game berths and winning multiple other titles at the county and regional level, before learning Severna Park would not be renewing her contract on June 30.
Hines, who replaces seven-year coach Sonny Jones, takes the reins of a program somewhat unfamiliar with the success her old program has experienced. Chesapeake finished the recent spring season 5-7 and has never won a state title (Severna Park has 14). The Cougars last reached the championship game in 1991, the only time the program has made the final four.
That’s not what Hines sees. When she looks around the Pasadena school, she sees a constantly replenishing pool of pure athletes. She sees countless programs with recent state titles on the walls, including field hockey, which shares many of the same players with Hines’ new team.
According to Hines, Cougars are used to championship-caliber work. Now, she plans to be the one to lead them there.
“I know they’ve got pieces” Hines said. “It’s just coming in and really setting the tone of, ‘We’re going to try to achieve the most we absolutely can,’ setting high expectations and pushing them hard.”
Hines recognizes lifting Chesapeake lacrosse to the level of Severna Park and Broadneck will not be accomplished in a year. Even in two years, Hines predicts reclassification by the state will shift the goalposts her program will have to reach.
She knows it’s cliché, but her initial plans for the Cougars really boil down to winning games.
“Flipping some of those games I think they could’ve gotten before, that they should be getting,” Hines said. “Making sure that’s our first step.”
Looking down the road, Hines foresees a return to a region championship level, something Chesapeake accomplished as recently as 2021. And if her team truly buys in, the coach doesn’t see anything stopping her program from journeying deep into the state playoffs in the near future.
Keeter possesses equally aspirational goals for the Cougars boys soccer program, and why shouldn’t he? He assisted his father as Kevin piloted their girls to the state semifinals three years ago.
When former coach Drew Belcher stepped down from the boys soccer post, Keeter felt uncertain. Those in the community around him certainly did not, pleading with him to consider it — most of all, one 14-year-old boy entering Chesapeake in the fall, Colton Keeter.
“My little brother was very interested in it,” Ryan Keeter said. “My family, my girlfriend were big supporters; they pushed me to do it, and now, I’m not looking back. I am very happy and very excited.”
Though the Cougars graduated much of its roster from last year’s 6-6 team, Keeter looks forward to the talent coming through the pipeline. He’s known many of them for years, coaching them alongside his dad. The coach met with the remaining rising seniors, who showed their coach unbridled excitement for their new future. And that future, Keeter said, will resemble his own past.
When Keeter competed in the backfield for the Cougars from 2010-13, Chesapeake relied on his unit’s strength. What Keeter wants to develop is an organized defense, one that understands what it needs to do in the attacking, middle and defensive thirds.
“When I was going through, the old-school Chesapeake mentality was hard-headed, hard-nosed defense,” Keeter said. “I want to bring a little bit of that with some new, modern flair to the program.”
It was imperative to Keeter to stock his staff with those who understood the mission. One of those coaches is Ryan Gruss, the county’s leading scorer in his senior season who Keeter said spearheaded the Cougars’ march to the state final in 2014.
“There’s so much skill and talent and I can’t wait to get out there and give them a different look, get some different angles, just freshen it up,” Keeter said. “[With the new staff], we’re bringing some youth into it.”