Neenah to name soccer field after legendary coach

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NEENAH, Wis. (WBAY) - He's won more boy's high school soccer games than any other coach in Wisconsin history, and now Harry Kelderman's legacy will live on in the Fox Valley soccer community.

In 35 seasons as coach of the Neenah High School boy's soccer team, Harry Kelderman won more than 600. Even with all of those victories, including three state championships, and the plaques and honors hanging in his home, Kelderman doesn't consider himself a legend.

He says, "That just makes me old, that's all that makes me. I've been very fortunate. I've had a lot of success, a lot of nice young kids have gone through the program and I've had a lot of help from the school district."

And that's why the district board, by a unanimous vote, decided to name the high school soccer field "Harry Kelderman Field at Rocket Memorial Stadium".

"Truthfully, you can almost think of him as the father of soccer, particularly in the Fox Cities. He started the youth group and had so much success and so many kids got to see Neenah soccer, for years, go down to state and win some state championships and soccer is such a huge sport here and in the greater Fox Cities," says Brian Wunderlich, the Neenah High School Principal.

But for as much as Kelderman was known for his work with kids on the soccer field, it's the role he took in their lives outside of soccer that was just as important.

According to Nate Werner, the former Activities Director at Neenah High School, "He would come in on his off days to check kid's grades. I know he would hate me for saying this, but he also gave money out of his own pocket to help some of his players who were in need, never made it known that it was him, but just always took care of those kids."

One of the kids Kelderman had an opportunity to coach was his son Kris, now the men's soccer coach at UW-Milwaukee. He says winning back to back state championships, with his son on the team, tops his coaching accomplishments, and now he's humbled to be honored by the naming of the field.

Kelderman adds, "I was absolutely surprised. I was just stunned. It's something you do for a lifetime and you do it for the joy of it and when something like this comes along. It's kind of unique. It's pretty cool."

The official dedication of Harry Kelderman Field is set for September 26th.