UCCS announces Johnnie Keen as Head Men's Soccer Coach
Colorado Springs, CO: Johnnie Keen, former top Assistant Coach for the UCCS men's soccer program, has been promoted to head coach, UCCS Athletic Director Steve Kirkham announced.
Keen, 33, was selected by UCCS and was promoted into the position after former Coach Henry Ellis announced his retirement from coaching. Ellis, who together with Keen, were instrumental in rebuilding the UCCS men's soccer program over the past four seasons, was excited about handing the, "keys to the program over to Coach Keen. Johnnie is without question the right coach for this program and I am excited to see him continue to take the necessary steps to build the soccer team the right way."
Associate Athletic Director Nathan Gibson commented, "Coach Ellis and Coach Keen took over a challenging situation when they started here, but their commitment to building the program the right way, to have success on the field as well as excel in a tough academic environment, makes me excited for where Coach Keen will take the team in the coming years." Gibson also noted the strength of the RMAC in men's soccer with the likes of Fort Lewis, Colorado Mines, and Metro State. Gibson has, "been impressed in the progress the UCCS men's team made in a relatively short period of time under the guidance of Coach Ellis in arguably the toughest NCAA Division II Conference in the country. Our future is bright with Coach Keen and we expect to compete with everyone in our conference, region, and Division II. There is no reason why we cant beat anyone we play now."
Before starting as the assistant coach at UCCS, Keen played professionally from 2002-2004 for the Wilmington Hammerheads. In 2004 he was the Team Captain. Unfortunately, 4 games into the year, he had season ending ACL injury after recording 2 goals and 3 assists. After the injury, he took on the role of inspirational leader for team, giving pregame and halftime pep talks throughout season.
In 2003 he was a D2 Pro Select League National Champion. He was a starter and scored the winning goal in the Semi-Final game. His team was D2 Pro Select League National Runner-up's in 2002 and Keen was selected to the All-League Team.
As a rookie in 2001, he played for the Charleston Battery. From 1997-2000 he was a member of The Citadel Bulldogs where he served as team Captain for the 1999 and 2000 seasons. He was a 3 time All-Southern Conference selection and an All-South selection his Senior Year.
He attended High School in South Carolina where he earned Player of the Year in 1997. Also during his high school years, he was named four-time All-State selection.
Keen is very optimistic about the future of the Mountain Lion Men's soccer team. "We have a great group of 20 guys returning and most of them have seen significant playing time already," says Keen. Coach Keen and former-coach Ellis' mutual respect is ever-evident in Keen's statement regarding the players that Ellis left when he retired. "Henry left me a very great group of guys so I couldn't be happier moving forward."
The newly anointed coach is also very pleased with the new class of UCCS recruits that will begin play in the fall. "We have a great class coming in as well, some talented junior college transfers and freshman too. We're able to red-shirt some guys this year and develop them before they see some playing time, which speaks volumes of the way we've been able to retain players. Don't get me wrong, there will be players in this class that will see some playing time early."
It's safe to say that the future is looking bright for UCCS Mountain Lion Men's Soccer.
UCCS has 13 athletic teams. Since 1996, UCCS student-athletes have competed in NCAA Division II. The university is a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
UCCS, located on Austin Bluffs Parkway in Colorado Springs, is one of the fastest growing universities in the nation. The University offers 36 bachelor's degrees, 19 master's degrees, and five doctoral degrees. The campus enrolls about 9,300 students annually.
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