The NFL has seen its share of father-son coaches: Marty and Brian Schottenheimer, Mike and Kyle Shanahan, Bum and Wade Phillips.
In Anne Arundel County, Keith Wiedenhoeft has started his own family coaching tree, but unlike those famous figures, he coaches purely for his love of the game.
Keith is currently the special teams coordinator for Northeast High School’s varsity football team, and he also serves as an assistant coach for the offensive and defensive lines. Keith Jr. is a JV football coach with Meade. Louis is a JV coach with Glen Burnie.
With Keith Sr. at the helm, all three have also spent the last five years coaching together for the Harundale Rebels varsity U football team.
“We scout games, we watch film together,” Keith Sr. said. “All we talk about is football. Our wives are always asking, ‘Can’t you talk about something else?’”
Keith’s first coaching experience was around age 16 when he taught tee-ball. In the mid ‘90s, he joined the Pasadena Chargers, which coaches football to kids ages 3 to 13. In that role, he worked with Brian Baublitz, who is now the Northeast High School varsity head coach for football.
When Baublitz offered Keith a role with Northeast three years ago, the decision was as easy as opting to kick a field goal for a go-ahead score.
Although playing on special teams is often a thankless job, Keith gets his players to see their importance.
“It’s setting that maniac mentality to want to do more,” he said. “A lot of the holes from last year we needed to fix and have more discipline. I don’t want to jinx myself, because the season is not over, but in a lot of areas, we have really improved. Our kicker, Kayla Alexander, is incredible.”
As he’s aged, he has matured as a leader.
“When I was younger, I was the horse’s tail, screaming about everything,” Keith said. “As I’ve grown, I’ve taken that other approach. I don’t think that nasty motivator approach is effective anymore.”
For the last five or six years, Keith has held another title: president of Ravens Roost 75. The group members are big advocates of Ruth Parker Eason School and they assist many causes, such as Toys for Tots. They hold monthly collections to raise money for Mary’s Center, North County Emergency Outreach Network, Sarah’s House, and the United Service Organizations (USO).
“One member is a Vietnam veteran and he suggested we put together Easter baskets one year for the USO,” Keith said. “His thing was, these kids are 18 or 19 and leaving their families. We put a little note in there that says, ‘Thank you from Roost 75.’ A package means a lot for these kids, not knowing what to expect. It’s to let them know there are other people who care, whether they’re getting deployed to a volatile station or another area of service. The sacrifice these men and women make is incredible.”
Although he won’t take much credit, Keith Sr. has sacrificed many hours to help local athletes hone their skills. Many of those hours have come with the Rebels, which made the playoffs this year.
“The way this group of kids grew, there was a real appreciation for being a family,” Keith said. “The players really bought in.”
After five years of coaching the Rebels with his sons, he will step down, but he will continue to coach at Northeast and be the treasurer for Pasadena Football Club.
“I will miss the kids and I will miss coaching with my sons, but it’s time,” Keith said.
In addition to the aforementioned JV coaching gigs, Keith Jr. is the baseball commissioner for the Harundale Youth Sports League, and Louis is a basketball coach during the winter and spring.
Keith’s family coaching tree continues to look more impressive by the year.
“These men spend an immeasurable amount of time on the field and off the field supporting the league and the youth of the community while working full-time jobs,” said Linda Wiedenhoeft, Keith’s wife. “Their passion is like no other. Late night and early morning field maintenance; communication via email, text and phone calls; reviewing and discussing game film and strategies; debating the team plays and player changes; scouting their opponents; and bragging and boasting about their players and team are just a few of the things you will find them doing on a daily basis.”
Keith remembers winning a rec playoff game as a No. 7 seed against a No. 2 seed, and being a coach for the Northeast squad that beat Severna Park in 2017 for what coaches think was the first time in school history. His biggest accomplishment, though, can’t be measured by a stat sheet.
“The biggest thing is when kids come back after we coached them years ago and they ask, ‘Do you remember me?’ and we start talking,” Keith said. “That is probably the most rewarding thing, because you had a big impact on that kid, maybe not from a win or loss perspective, but you had a positive impact on their life. From a coaching perspective, that’s the most important thing we can do. I tell my wife, ‘I’m not rich by any means, but I feel like a millionaire.’”
To contact Keith Wiedenhoeft Sr. for information about Ravens Roost 75, or to help with the Toys for Tots drive, email email@example.com.