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Back where she started
Former Ripon standout now head coach at alma mater
First-year head coach Adrienne Uecker gets players in position during volleyball practice at Ripon Highs main gym Thursday. - photo by HIME ROMERO

RIPON – The Ripon High volleyball program had grown accustomed to former head coach Larry Keethe leading the program to deep postseason runs year after year. Now Keethe is retired and first-year head coach Adrienne Uecker takes over the reins.

Uecker, a 1998 Ripon High graduate, surrendered her seat as Stanislaus State’s first assistant coach to help continue her alma mater’s long history of success.

“I’m more excited than anything because I’m a Ripon High grad,” Uecker said of her new position. “I was born and raised here and my family is still here; it was nice to be able to go away and hone my skills and work under wonderful coaches. When this opportunity came up, it really just felt right.

“This town means everything to me.”

Uecker will take over a team that has posted five Trans Valley League titles during Keethe’s six-season run as head coach. The Indians won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title in 2010, yet loss several key components, including TVL MVP Kelsey Johnston and all-TVL outside hitter Cheyann DePrue.

“I think we are great; we are definitely a solid team,” Uecker said. “I have a solid 12 that are really going to be competitive within ourselves. It really is a great situation to be in for a first-year coach.”

“Talent-wise, I am happy as a coach could be.”

Uecker’s task of filling Keethe’s shoes will be no easy task. The former Ripon head coach compiled a ridiculous 82-4 TVL record in his career, with a 210-49 overall record. Keethe’s lower-level squads have been able to muster four consecutive league titles on both the freshman and sophomore levels.

“We talked a few times when I first got the position,” Uecker said of her contact with Keethe. “Obviously, there is so much to learn and there are so many things to do, especially with him being here for so long.

“He’s been very supportive and helpful to me and the girls. It truly has been an easy transition.”

Now Uecker will look for the results. There is no doubt as to who the program’s leader is after one practice session at Ripon High. Uecker is instilling the makeup in her team that made her a captain for San Joaquin Delta College. The Indians don’t know anything but success the past decade, and the goal is for that not to change.

“I definitely think that we would like to keep the tradition going,” Uecker said. “But I feel the way we get there, the way we go to playoffs and continue to move forward, is by working hard, having respect for ourselves and others and having discipline.”

Uecker previously head coached at Modesto High, and led the Panthers to an undefeated season in the Modesto Metro Conference in 2007.