BILLINGS — When she was roaming the field as a midfielder for the Billings Senior girls soccer team, Chez Keehn didn’t give it a thought that one day she’d be leading the same program.
But, nearly seven years after graduating from Senior, Keehn is now the one in charge. She was hired as coach of the Broncs on Tuesday by Mark Wahl, the School District 2 director of athletics and activities. Wahl also chose Denver-area coach Russ Dornisch as the boys soccer coach at Billings Skyview.
Neither new coach has to change their wardrobe much. For Dornisch, he’s been an assistant coach at Highland Ranch High School, whose primary school color is blue and whose mascot is the “Falcons.”
Keehn, of course, has always been orange-and-black, graduating from Senior in 2012 and winning a Class AA state title with the Broncs in 2011.
“It’s really cool to go back to a program that I hold near and dear to my heart, and that gave a lot back to me,” she said.
Keehn was a four-year player under Megan Parish, who announced her resignation earlier this year. Keehn then played at Rocky Mountain College, where she was an all-Frontier Conference defender her senior year in 2016.
She graduated with a degree in health and human performance and is working on graduate studies at Montana State-Billings to get a K-12 physical education teaching license. She plans to student teach next spring.
As for following in the footsteps of Parish, a coach who won titles at Senior in 2011 and 2013 and guided the Broncs to six title-match appearances overall, Keehn said she would like to continue the same strong tradition.
“Megan developed players, but she developed humans, too, if that makes sense,” Keehn said. “I want to keep that. The goal is not just develop and create good soccer players, the goal is to help them develop skills that they’re going to use later on in life, like work ethic and how to work as a team.”
Keehn said she has been too busy to stay in the game regularly, but that she’s coached “off and on” since graduating from RMC. She also said she’s had designs on becoming a head coach, and this opportunity was too good to pass up, even if it’s earlier than expected on her timeline.
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“I’m excited,” she said. “I’m a little nervous, but that’s normal. I’m more excited than anything. I’m excited to get going, I’m excited to start the summer program with the girls and see where it takes us, really.”
Dornisch is a 2011 graduate of Colorado Christian, where he was a two-time all-academic player. He earned a Masters degree in finance from Colorado State and since 2011 has been an assistant girls and boys soccer coach at Heritage High School, Kipp Collegiate Academy and Highland Ranch high schools in the Denver area.
He said the impetus for his move to Billings was when his wife, Angela, was hired as pastor of Hope United Methodist Church in the Heights. When they learned of Angela’s new job, they went online and found that the Skyview boys soccer position was open as well.
“It all just kind of worked out,” said Russell, who also took a job at Rocky Mountain College as an accountant and has signed on to coach with Billings United as well.
Dornisch said he felt he’s been ready for a couple years to become a head coach, but that time commitments in previous jobs have prevented it. He said he’s more than ready to get started, and that he wants his players to know that he’s going to be around for a while.
He said he wants his teams to focus on discipline, hard work and being a good teammate.
“My first goal is to just really work on establishing a specific culture that I want to carry through with the team,” said Dornisch, who expects to be in Billings by the end of June. “Moreso than just wins and losses right away, but really institute a specific culture among the boys.”
Dornisch succeeds Josh Seader, who stepped down after this past season. The Falcons were 6-6-3 and advanced to state for the first time since 2015.
Coaching positions for West boys soccer and Senior volleyball remain open.