Today will be Upper Perk head football coach Keith Leamer's final game with the Indians. He steps down with a 46-34 record in the Pioneer Athletic Conference, and a 59-45 mark overall.
Keith Leamer’s home refrigerator holds a very telling note that reads, “we interrupt this marriage to bring you the football season.”
While laughable, it has been an ongoing scenario for the Upper Perkiomen head football coach, one going back Leamer’s 28 years of coaching various sports in various seasons.
And that time away from home, coupled with the change of his teaching schedule, has led the longtime educator and coach to announce his resignation as the Indians’ head coach after this season.
Leamer, who has been the head coach for the Indians the past eight years, started his coaching career at Upper Perk in 1984. He coached at Central Bucks East as a varsity assistant in 1985 and was the head coach for Kutztown High School from 1991-1993. He returned to be an assistant with the Indians in 1994, where he has coached ever since, moving up from head middle school coach to head varsity coach in 2004.
“The most important reason I am stepping down is to spend more time with my family,” Leamer said, whose wife Cindy posted the reminder on the refrigerator. “My wife deserves a medal for everything she does for our family.”
Leamer’s oldest son Jake, 15, plays hockey year-round, while his 11-year-old son Trevor is a three-sport athlete as a sixth-grader, playing football, basketball and baseball.
Besides the family, Leamer also said there were several other factors that told him it was time to step away as a head coach. For starters, his teaching schedule changed the time when Leamer could prep for practice. In his previous seven seasons, Leamer was able to get to the high school early enough to interact with players well before practice. Once his prep period was taken away this season, he regularly arrived 35 minutes after practice started.
“As a head coach, I feel this is unacceptable,” Leamer said. “I have put a lot of pressure on my assistants and players to do things on their own. I feel that this has led to a disconnect between my players and myself this season, and has led to a lack of focus, discipline, and motivation. It definitely showed in our performance on the field especially early in the season.”
Leamer also said there was a growing frustration with the commitment of his players to the off-season strength and conditioning program. He suggested a school-wide plan for all of the sports to promote guidelines in and out of season.
“It gets tiresome when you are putting in more time and effort than some of your players,” Leamer said. “We need all sports to continue to have our players do maintenance lifting during the offseason to minimize injuries during other sports seasons.”
He also advocated for consistency at the youth football level. Basic fundamentals of the game need to be taught to the young players that can be refined in the middle school and high school levels, he said.
Leamer will head into today’s Thanksgiving Day tilt at Boyertown with a 46-34 record in the Pioneer Athletic Conference, and a 59-45 mark overall. His most successful team came back in 2004 when the Indians went 7-2, 8-3 overall and qualified for the District 1-AAA playoffs, a feat his squads earned two more times.
Only two teams under Leamer’s tenure have had overall losing records, as the 2011 squad will look to avoid being the third provided they take care of business against the Bears. Teams under Leamer in both 2004 and 2006 earned a chance to play for the PAC-10 title, with both efforts coming up just short. He’s quick to say he is done as a head coach, but would like to return as an assistant somewhere, in some capacity.
“I have been blessed for many years to have taught my players from kindergarten through fifth grade, and then watched them grow into fine young men,” Leamer said. “I then was able to coach them in 10th through 12th grade. As educators, our goal is to not just make our players better at our sport, but more importantly to make them better people. Hopefully, those who have played for me over these many years can attest to that.”
Besides thanking the Upper Perk School District itself and its many student athletes throughout the years, Leamer was also quick to thank his assistant coaches at the various levels, especially coach Tom Paul, who has been with Leamer all eight years at the high school. Longtime assistant Glenn Miller has been on Leamer’s staff the past 14 years at the middle and high school.
“I’d also like to give a special thanks to all of our custodial and outside maintenance staff at Upper Perk High School,” Leamer said. “Especially Randy Brunner, Clarence Finkboon, Eric Finkboon, Tonya Cope, Jeff Karom and Scott Seip. They have done a tremendous job in helping out our football program.”