At select Cleveland Browns home games one lucky Browns fan, who exhibits the message of First and Ten and shares their story with us about how they #give10, is honored at midfield as the coin toss captain of the game. When the Browns played the Saints in the first preseason game of the season, Larry Keller was that honoree.
Larry was honored for his commitment to people and community. His heart and passion for helping others is unmatched. As the 2017-18 academic school year comes around the corner, Keller will enter his 10th year as the principal of Willoughby Middle School, continuing his 27-year career in public education.
Larry's passion to become a teacher and a coach began in high school because he was very influenced by his high school coaches and teachers. After graduating from college he started the path of public school teaching and coaching.
Larry first connected with the Browns as a volunteer at the national 7-on-7 football tournament held at the NFL Rookie Symposium. He was granted the opportunity because he serves on the executive board of the Greater Cleveland Football Coaches Association.
While he no longer actively coaches, he is still heavily involved with the players and the coaches and the scholarship program that he had part in creating for Cuyahoga county football players who attend public, private and parochial high schools.
Keller says his dad was a youth league coach when he was coming up, but it was really the great mentors early in his career in Cleveland Heights and a high school in North Carolina, who he attributes most for influencing and mentoring him in what he enjoys doing so much today.
"They taught me simple goals like 'the most important thing is putting the kids first, developing young men of character, not just about the x's and o's and proper technique,'" Keller said.
It excites him when the youth are taking their playing skills to the next level and pursuing higher education in addition to becoming a leader and a teammate that others can count on.
Keller believes it's just as important that they would become good husbands and fathers and employees and community members.
"We love the game, we love playing the game, we love coaching the game but if we leave the game, we want to make sure they have character," said Keller. "That was instilled in me very on."
One of the things that he's always tried to share with others is that it's not about me, it's about 'we.'
He's always been an advocate for paying it forward, telling the athletes however they can make a difference, in their family, workplace, school and community; they are leaving the world a better place than they found it.
"I get tremendous satisfaction out of them getting their academic award, scholarships and playing in the all-star game," said Keller. "It's so cool to see the kids do well for themselves because they can then support other people because of their [positive] actions."
Are you signed up to #give10? Do you have your orange #give10 wristband? Share how you are helping the community and pledge to be part of First and Ten on ClevelandBrowns.com/community. All you have to do is give 10 hours, help your community. We want to hear your stories so follow @BrownsGiveBack on Twitter and Instagram for the latest community updates and be sure to use #give10.