It’s Friday morning at Grain Valley High School and coach David Allie’s Eagles are boarding a school bus for the 30-minute drive to Fort Osage, where the two area teams will participate in a two-hour scrimmage.
Keller knows he better enjoy the brief solace of the brief bus ride as it might be the only downtime he spends that day without fine-tuning his game, hitting the weight room, working out on his own, playing baseball for his summer league KCK Blue Devils team or working at Wal-Mart.
“Summer is pretty much chaos,” Keller chuckles, “but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Keller is one of the premier three-sport athletes in Eastern Jackson County, as he is the starting quarterback for Allie’s Eagles, a power forward for coach Andy Herbert’s basketball team and a starting pitcher and third baseman for coach Brian Driskell’s baseball team.
But what makes Keller so special, to everyone who’s around him on a daily basis, is his leadership, work effort and humble approach to the games he dominates.
“Cole’s the best,” said his longtime friend and football manager Zach Aubuchon, who happens to be a dwarf. “I don’t even remember how Cole and I became friends, probably through football, but you’re cool when you’re Cole’s friend. And that makes just about everybody at our high school cool, because Cole is friends with everyone.”
At the recent Eagles youth football camp, 7-year-old Caden Bobzien just wanted to shake Keller’s hand because he dreams of playing quarterback at the high school.
Keller made a point of taking Caden to the sidelines, asked him about his football team, how long he had been playing football and doing everything he could to make the youngster feel special.
“I want to wear Cole’s number,” Caden said. “He’s my favorite player now!”
Keller just grinned when that remark was relayed his way.
“It doesn’t take any time to spend a few minutes with a little kid or to be nice to people, especially your teammates, guys who are part of the football team or the kids you go to school with,” said Keller, 16, whose maturity far surpasses his age.
“I am so blessed to be able to play sports, and I want to make the most out of my time. But I have to admit, I keep a pretty good list of the things I have to do in the summer with all the practices and workouts and baseball and my job.
“And I’m going to start cleaning up construction sites soon, but I’ll be a little bit busier, but that’s OK. I love what I’m able to do.”
He spends his morning in the weight room, working out with the Eagles football team. He then works six hours a day, three days a week at Wal-Mart and then spends time with personal coaches/trainers to fine-tune his many talents.
“I heard one time that a coach said you should concentrate on one sport so you’re not a jack of all trades but a master of none,” Keller said.
“Right now, I’m working my tail off to be a master of all three sports – and I will continue playing all three sports in high school because I love them. I guess you could say I love the one I’m playing at the moment the most, so right now it’s football.
“But I really love baseball. But, heck, I love basketball, too. I love them all, and I never want to be the weak link on any of my teams. I want to be able to contribute and be a key member of each one of my teams.
“Maybe that’s why I work so hard. I got a great work ethic from my parents, and I want to thank them for that. I know if I’m sitting around, there is someone out there working hard to get better at what they do – so you’re not going to see me sitting around much this summer.”