RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Grace Keller of Hoboken, a 2013 graduate of Felician College, did not have to wait long to reach her goal of coaching high-level competitive sports.
Keller, a four-year starter for Felician's softball team, has been hired as the manager of the age 12-and-under (12U) team for the newly-launched Akadema Elite Girls' Fastpitch Organization. Based in northern New Jersey, Akadema Elite teams play in tournaments throughout the tri-state area with the goals of teaching competitive softball fundamentals and preparing their members for high-school varsity play and beyond.
"Coaching has always been a dream of mine since I was a little kid," said Keller, 23. "We start tournaments in September, but this is a year-round responsibility and I'm ready for it. I'm excited about this opportunity and being a part of the Akadema Elite organization."
After a standout three-sport scholastic career at Holy Family Academy of Bayonne, Keller started at seven positions – all three outfield spots, second base, shortstop, pitcher and designated player -- for Felician softball from 2009-12. She is the all-time leader in games played for the Golden Falcons (174) and is one of 11 members of the program's 100-hit club (4th, 127). She graduated in May with a 3.4 GPA as a double major in elementary education and fine art.
Keller is also a first-grade teacher at The Ethical Community Charter School in Jersey City.
"Grace is the ideal coach for our organization," said Greg Allen, founder of Akadema Elite. "She is an accomplished student-athlete who will not only teach our young players the game of softball, but also how to balance academics and social lives while playing at a high level. Grace exudes a passion for softball and we believe she will be a tremendous asset to Akadema Elite for many years to come."
Keller recently began her association with Akadema Elite by assisting in its invitation-only tryout, which was attended by more than 50 players. She worked under the organization's Director of Coaching, Candace Winder, the former Waldwick High and Saint Peter's College star.
Akadema Elite is affiliated with PONY, USSSA, Premier Girls Fastpitch, USA Softball, and ASA.
Felician College is a coeducational, liberal arts, Catholic college, enrolling 2,300 students in undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the Arts and Sciences, Business and Management, Teacher Education, and Health Sciences and Nursing. A Division II member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Felician College competes in baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, cross-country, men's golf, women's volleyball, and cheerleading. Founded in 1942 by the Felician Sisters in the Franciscan tradition, Felician College is located on two campuses in Lodi and Rutherford, New Jersey.