Joe Keller had no desire to leave his job as Northridge High School boys and girls swimming coach.
“We had a ton of success for a small school,” Keller said. “It was home and I felt I could retire there and be very happy.”
His Northridge boys swimming team finished third three times in the IHSAA state finals. His girls team was poised for success after finishing fifth in 2016 and sixth in 2017.
“One of the struggles I had in taking (the Fishers) job is we had a really good team,” Keller said. “So, it was hard to leave that, but I knew we had potential here with all the resources.”
Keller was first persuaded to look into the Fishers High School job by former Tigers coach Jay Chambers, who was leaving for USA Swimming. Keller was eventually convinced and officially started July 1, 2017, as coach of the FHS boys and girls teams and the Fishers Area Swimming Tigers, known as FAST. The Northridge girls team did end up finishing second in 2018.
However, in his six seasons at Fishers, Keller’s success as a coach has grown. He was recently named to the Indiana High School Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame. He will be inducted April 15 in the coaching category for the class of 2023 at a banquet in Indianapolis.
Keller’s FHS girls team notched its fourth consecutive second-place finish Feb. 11 in the IHSAA state finals. Carmel has won 37 straight girls state titles. Keller’s FHS boys team was second in the 2021 state finals.
Keller doesn’t get wrapped up with his own coaching honors.
“Everything I do is about the kids,” Keller said. “The (Hall of Fame) is a recognition for all the athletes and the coaches that have been a part of that process. I just had the honor of driving the boat.”
His swimmers know he does more than that.
“He definitely deserves it,” FHS senior JoJo Ramey said of the Hall of Fame honor. “I’m going to miss swimming for him next summer. He’s been amazing and I definitely wouldn’t be where I am without him.”
Ramey’s senior teammate Kate Mouser shares that sentiment.
“Coach Keller is the best coach,” she said. “He’s so supportive. There is no one like him. It’s hard to put in words how much he means to me and how much he has pushed me along the way to where I’m at. Everything I’ve accomplished is a credit to him.”
Keller, 53, started coaching immediately after graduating from Ball State University. Keller, who was a BSU swimmer, started at Northridge in the fall of 1991. At that time, girls swimming was a fall sport. Northridge had started its swimming program 1 1/2 years before Keller took over. Under Keller, Northridge won 13 girls sectional titles and 16 boys sectional crowns.
Keller and his wife, Patti, have three sons, Philip, Kristopher and Timothy. Philip and Kristopher both swam for Northridge.
Philip is a Noblesville High School assistant soccer coach. Kristopher is an assistant swimming coach for FHS and FAST. Timothy graduated from FHS in 2019.
Fishers finish second in the girls swimming state finals for 4th straight year