Keehn retires after 34 seasons
Longtime UNA baseball coach will retire at end of ‘22 season
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The longest tenured coach in the history of the University of North Alabama athletic program, Mike Keehn has announced his retirement as head baseball coach of the Lions at the end of the current 2022 season.
Keehn, who joined the UNA program as a graduate assistant in 1989, retires as a grandfather who has spent the last 34 years helping guide the Lion program to 1,065 total wins. He was a part of 720 wins as an assistant coach to Mike Lane and has earned another 345 wins as head coach at North Alabama.
In all, Keehn has coached UNA in its last 1,720 straight games over a career that touches five decades.
Keehn announced his retirement following the Lions’ Saturday afternoon game against Bellarmine.
Keehn final home game as head coach of the Lions ended in a win over Bellarmine.
“Coach Keehn and I met earlier this month to discuss his plans to retire at the conclusion of the 2022 season,” said University of North Alabama Director of Athletics Dr. Josh Looney. “Consistent with Coach Keehn’s high character and relentless loyalty to UNA Baseball, he insisted that the attention of this final home weekend series be focused on Senior Day festivities and baseball’s graduating athletes. Now that those two events have passed, Sunday’s home finale is our opportunity to congratulate Mike and his family on their 34-year dedication to UNA Baseball. Mike loves this program and his contributions are immeasurable. On behalf of everyone at North Alabama Athletics, we thank Coach Keehn for pouring his heart and soul into our program and wish the Keehn’s the absolute best.”
“There aren’t a lot of coaches that get to spend their entire professional career at one school and I appreciate the University of North Alabama for giving me that opportunity,” said Keehn. “This community has been great to us.
“A very special thank you to my family, my wife Lisa, children Jessica, Erica and Austin. Their support over the years has meant so much to me. Coaches wives have to endure a lot, and I am truly grateful for Lisa to be beside me and support me during this amazing time in my life. We are both looking forward to this new chapter in our lives.”
Keehn also thanked Lane, who brought him to North Alabama in 1989.
“A special thanks to Coach Mike Lane as well for giving me the opportunity here as a graduate assistant, and for believing in me and then hiring me as a full time assistant coach. I will always be grateful for our continued relationship and his leadership, and especially his friendship.
“I want to thank former athletic director Mark Linder for hiring me as head baseball coach here and giving me the chance to lead the program, and a special thanks to Matt Hancock and Nick McGregor for their time with my as a head coach and their loyalty to me and the baseball program. I also want to thank Anthony DeCicco and Chris Blakey for their time and efforts as assistant coaches here at UNA as well.
“I have been very fortunate to be around some incredible players over the years and see them develop and be successful and that has truly been a blessing. I am so proud of all the players I have had the opportunity to coach, and appreciate all the time and efforts during their playing time, but even more importantly, to see them return and continue to support UNA Baseball,” Keehn said.
Keehn is the 10th head baseball coach in school history and will close his career as the second winningest coach in program history, behind only Lane.
During his time at UNA, Keehn helped develop numerous All-Americans, dozens of players who went on to play professional baseball and three who reached the Major Leagues. He also coached 12 players who have been inducted into the UNA Athletic Hall of Fame.
The Lions have also excelled off the field during Keehn’s time at UNA, producing 44 academic all-conference selections and three Academic All-Americans®.
As head coach, Keehn helped lead UNA to back-to-back NCAA playoff appearances in 2011 and 2012 and has guided the program through the four years of transition to Division I.
As an assistant coach, Keehn helped lead the Lions to four conference championships and seven NCAA playoff appearances, including a spot in the 1999 NCAA Division II World Series.
An infielder at Kearney State College (now the University of Nebraska-Kearney), Keehn earned honorable mention All-America honors, and was drafted and signed by the Texas Rangers organization. After a stint in the minor leagues, he went to coach at Kansas City, Kan., Community College from 1985-88. He helped direct KCKCC to a 120-36 record over those three seasons with two Jayhawk Conference championships and two district runner-up finishes.
He then earned his Master’s in Education from UNA in July of 1990 after serving as a graduate assistant coach with the Lions from 1989-90.
In all he was an assistant coach at UNA for 20 seasons and has spent the last 14 years as head coach of the Lions.
He and his wife Lisa have two daughters, Jessica and Erica, and a son, Austin. Jessica is married to Corey Meisel and they a son, Houston. Erica is married to Rob Rikard and they have one son, Noah, and a daughter, Addison..
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