By Beth Cox
Kechia Eller is in her sixth year of teaching and coaching for Johnson County. Growing up, Eller always loved playing basketball, but when she became a coach, she quickly found her greatest joy was coaching. Eller has been the girls’ assistant basketball coach for the past three years. This year will be bittersweet for the young coach, as she will watch her first-year basketball team take their final bow for Johnson County. Eller says, “It’s hard to believe my very first team I coached is graduating this year. I have been with this group of girls since they were twelve; it is almost as if we have grown up together.”
Billy Graham once stated, “A coach will impact more young people in a year than the average person does in a lifetime.” The impact Eller has made on this year’s senior basketball players is quite evident as the girls express their respect and admiration for their beloved coach.
Eller was Taylor Cox’s first basketball coach, “I had never played organized basketball. I was so nervous about everything. Kechia taught me to believe in myself, which gave me the confidence I needed to be a better player.” Taylor Parsons sees Eller as not only a coach but also a friend, “I am thankful to call her coach, but blessed to call her friend.” Parsons says Eller coaches in a way that encourages and teaches, “She makes me want more for myself, she gives me constructive criticism in ways that I can fix the problem without getting down on myself.
Abby Cornett and Hannah Brooks both see Eller as a role model, a confidant, and a friend. Cornett says, “She has had a positive impact on me throughout these years. I couldn’t ask for a better role model and friend.” Brooks added, “Kechia has taught me not only about basketball but more importantly about life and how to deal with situations. I will be forever grateful that I had her as a coach and now a mentor.”
Eller saw the athleticism of her team back in middle school and now as seniors; “they taught me that being a coach is so much more than just coaching the game.” She continued, “they are great athletes, but the chemistry these girls have with each other only comes around once in a blue moon, and I’m glad these girls became part of mine.” Cox added, “I can’t thank her enough for everything she has done for me, and I am so glad she will be right there with us as we finish out our high school basketball careers, she deserves that.”