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Keethe steps down as Ripon coach

Team won 5 league titles, section crown in his 6 years

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Keethe steps down as Ripon coach

Flanked by Sierra Daggett and the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship banner, Ripon High head coach Larry Keethe holds the ball used in the title match Nov. 18 at UC Davis, where the India...

JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin


POSTED January 25, 2011 2:22 a.m.
Larry Keethe, at 69 years young, may be far from done with coaching.

But late in December he thought it was “time for a change,” deciding to step down as Ripon High’s varsity volleyball coach after six successful seasons.

“I wouldn’t mind staying there forever, but it was time to move on,” Keethe said. “I wanted to stay long enough to coach this present group of (seniors). Then I got to thinking that I wanted to stay for the present group of freshmen, too, but I would have had to stay another four years.

“I figured it was just time to hang it up now. I get attached to some of these kids and parents, which is what makes it so hard to leave.”

Keethe will continue coaching with the Stockton-based Delta Valley Volleyball Club. He isn’t ruling out a return to the high school ranks in the future, but for now he is looking forward to more leisure time and plans to spend some of it more with grandsons Jack and Jason Wright, who are 9 and 7, respectively.

“They play just about every sport, and they do it all year around,” Keethe said. “With me coaching both club and high school, I hardly ever get to watch them play. It’ll be fun to see them more.”

Under Keethe’s watch, Ripon achieved:

•Five straight Trans Valley League championships (2006-10).

•An 82-4 TVL record.

•A 210-49 overall record.

•Four consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV runner-up finishes (2006-09).

Back-to-back CIF State Championships final-four appearances (2008-09).

•The program’s first section title since 1983, when Ripon earned the third of three in a row.

Keethe ranks the section championship run in November as his fondest memory, and the Indians’ five-game upset of top-seeded Menlo on the road in the second round of the 2008 state tournament is a close second.

“There are a lot of good (memories),” Keethe said. “We also had some memorable losses, but I don’t care to talk about those.”

The most epic of defeats came against Sacramento powerhouse Christian Brothers, which boasted an eight-match winning streak until falling to the Indians in a non-league contest last fall. Among those eight straight losses, four of them came in the SJS finals and two in the NorCal finale — one of which Ripon led two games to none.

Ripon swept Golden Sierra for its section title, and Christian Brothers was moved up to Division III.

In 2005, Keethe inherited a league-championship team previously headed by Dawn Goudeau and isn’t leaving the tradition-rich program in shambles.

The 2010 team graduates just four seniors, though all of them were standouts in the starting rotation, including Cal State Monterey Bay-bound setter Kelsey Johnston.

The lower-level squads have also been successful. Coach Erin Stuart guided the freshman team to its fourth TVL title in five years, and former East Union varsity coach Mike Morenzone led the sophomore squad to a fourth straight conference crown.

 “I expect them to win the TVL again,” Keethe said. “They’ll be fine.”

Keethe, a retired attorney for the Department of Justice, began coaching in the 1960s in Southern California. He has coached football, swimming, water polo, soccer and softball as well as volleyball.

Before his time at Ripon, he guided Rio Americano of Sacramento to three successive SJS Division-II banners. Keethe also had coaching stints with Lincoln of Stockton, Valley of Sacramento, Florin, Elk Grove High and Laguna Creek of Elk Grove.

“I had a good time at Ripon High,” Keethe said. “The kids were so nice — everyone was so nice, from the kids, to the administration and to the fellow coaches on campus.”

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