After one season, Nature Coast's first football coach is among 50 applicants.
By FRANK PASTOR
Published December 23, 2003
BROOKSVILLE - The face of Nature Coast Tech football could be changing.
Less than a year after being tabbed to start the Sharks' program, coach Tom Keeler is looking for work elsewhere.
Keeler is among about 50 candidates who applied for the Citrus job, which Larry Bishop vacated last month.
Keeler, who commutes 45 minutes from Tarpon Springs, said he is seeking a way for he, his wife and two children to attend the same school while shortening his drive to work.
"Right now, anything is a far-fetched thing," Keeler said. "Right now, I"m planning on being at Nature Coast. I'm just trying to take care of the family first here."
Keeler teaches physical education at Nature Coast. His son, Ben, is an eighth-grader at Tarpon Middle. His wife, Billie, teaches at East Lake High, where daughter, Lizzy, is a junior, and Keeler previously taught and coached.
Nature Coast athletic director Joy Greene said she wasn't surprised Keeler applied for another job. She said Keeler told her after the season he was looking at other schools, though he did not specify Citrus.
Nature Coast does not offer the upper-level math classes Keeler's wife teaches or certain Advanced Placement classes his daughter needs, Greene said.
"It's got nothing to do with Nature Coast, nothing to do with the kids, nothing to do with the administration," Greene said. "It's all got to do with his family."
Keeler said he is not unhappy at Nature Coast, which went 3-6 in its start-up junior varsity season, closing with consecutive victories. The Sharks will begin varsity play next year.
"It's been a great experience getting to work with these young kids and starting from square one, ordering all the equipment and all the other things," said Keeler, who also coaches girls weightlifting. "It's been a tremendous experience for me."
Central assistants Cliff Lohrey and Marty Mowrey also applied for the position. Former Citrus standout wingback and linebacker Rick Hamilton, who played with the NFL's Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs and the Arena Football League's Orlando Predators, is another candidate.
Lohrey, who coached defensive backs at Central, and Mowrey (quarterbacks) also applied for the opening at Lecanto but were not among five finalists to replace Dick Slack, who resigned last month.
- Staff writer Keith Niebuhr contributed to this report.