Shawnee State University (SSU) has lured a local breakout soccer star to come play for the Bears in the 2016 season. Aaron Keyser recently became the newest member of the SSU men’s soccer signing class, when he made it official that we would further his collegiate athletic and academic career at the university.
Keyser is no stranger to SSU soccer. Clay head soccer coach, and SSU assistant soccer coach Mark Trapp remembers Keyser coming to soccer camps when he was still a young child.
“He first came to one of our youth camps when he was about eight or nine years old,” Trapp said. “He came down and was there for about a week or so, and at the end of the week, he was one of the best players we had.”
During his three years playing soccer for Clay, Keyser continued to improve his game, and showed a great work ethic, according to Trapp.
“His senior year, he really matured as a soccer player, and a leader,” Trapp said. “He is a very versatile player. He can play physical or play finesse. He can play both ways, which is something you need to have at the college level.”
SSU sees a lot of international players in their conference, and Keyser’s physical strength will be beneficial to his new soccer team.
“I could see him playing in a mid-field position, or I could see him as an outside back,” Trapp said. “You know, he’s just that versatile, he could play both places.”
Keyser was a team leader during his time at Clay. He was named team captain during his senior season, which saw the Panthers finish with a 9-7-2 record, and a victory over St. Joseph (Ironton) in the sectional tournament.
“You knew he was going to go out there and compete,” Trapp said. “He would give you 80 minutes a game, and he worked really hard. The thing about Aaron is, he was usually the first one at practice, and the last one to leave.”
Replacing Keyser will be an extremely tough endeavor for the Panthers next season.
“It will be very difficult,” Trapp said. “We have a nice young group coming up, but we’ll lose his leadership and his strength.”
While at Clay, Keyser received many awards and accolades in each of his three letter years. He was named First Team All-Southern Ohio Conference, and First Team All-District, during his senior year. He also earned the Panther Award. During his junior year, Keyser earned First Team All-Conference and an All-District Honorable Mention. His sophomore year saw him receive Second Team All-SOC, and Second Team All-District honors.
Despite losing him as a player on his high school squad, Trapp is excited to continue to watch Keyser as he moves on to the college level.
Keyser made it known at an early age where he wanted to play soccer when he got older. As a young participant at youth soccer camp, Keyser said he wanted to play for SSU.
“He told us then, ‘I’m going to come play for you,’ and I told him I would look forward to it,” Trapp said. “That’s just how it turned out.”
As his high school coach, Trapp helped Keyser with recruiting after being told Keyser wanted to continue to play soccer in college.
“I told him different recruiting websites to get with, and get registered with them, and to do all the little things,” Trapp said. “Luckily, we were able to keep him home.”
Trapp was happy with Keyser’s decision to stay close to home to continue his soccer career. One of the biggest perks of staying close to home is Keyser’s parents, Paul and Loretta, will be able to more closely follow their son’s career at SSU.
“I have the utmost respect for his family,” Trapp said. “They were great supporters of our team and our school, at Clay High School. That’s something that makes the coaching job a lot easier, when all the parents and everybody are on the same page, and back you 100%. That’s all I’ve had with them, and out there.”
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.