MARION — This was a four-month courtship that ultimately ended in engagement.
Linn-Mar High School announced Tuesday that Teresa Kehe will be its volleyball coach next season.
“We are so excited,” athletics director Scott Mahmens said. “This is a step toward putting us with the elite programs in the state.”
The school board approved the hire at Monday’s meeting. Kehe will serve as a high-school physical education instructor.
“It’s been an interesting process,” said Kehe, 53, best known for her construction of a volleyball dynasty at Tripoli High School before moving on to Loras College.
“They contacted me in November, but I couldn’t afford to just come here and coach. There had to be a teaching job available. So we’ve been in touch periodically.”
Kehe spoke to her team at Loras her decision on Tuesday.
“Kids are resilient,” she said. “It was tougher on me than it was on them.”
Kehe is a Cedar Rapids native, graduating from Jefferson High School in 1977. Her father — Dick Langguth — lives in town. So does one of her two sons, Adam Kehe.
Upon her graduation from the University of Northern Iowa in 1981, Kehe literally built the Tripoli program from scratch.
And she built it into a powerhouse, leading the Panthers to six Class 1A state championships. Her teams reached the state finals eight straight years between 1998 and 2005.
In 23 seasons at Tripoli, Kehe amassed a record of 579-140-37. She was a National Coach of the Year finalist twice and was inducted into the Iowa Girls Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011.
She left in 2005 for Loras, where she compiled a seven-year mark of 132-112 with two Iowa Conference championships and an NCAA Division-III tournament bid in 2008, its first in school history.
“Her success as a volleyball coach speaks for itself, but what is more important is her philosophy of teaching, coaching and working with young people in general, said Linn-Mar associate athletics director Tonya Moe. “This philosophy is exactly what we are looking for as an instructor and head volleyball coach.
“She is a tremendous role model who has the best interest of student-athletes 100 percent of the time. She will have an outstanding impact on the students in her classroom and her players. We are confident Coach Kehe is the right person to lead our volleyball program here at Linn-Mar.”
Rob Justis had coached the Lions for five seasons before resigning abruptly in September, early last season. Jenny Lucas and Erin Downing served as co-coaches on an interim basis for the remainder of the season.
Linn-Mar was 15-20. The Lions lose leading hitter Megan Allmandinger to graduation, but return the rest of their lineup.
“I don’t know anything about them yet,” Kehe said. “But I know that Linn-Mar has tremendous athletes across the board. I want them to be as good as they can be. We want to get the culture and the climate so that they’re working extremely hard and believing in themselves.”
Marion Coach Roxanne Paulsen played for Kehe during the first four years Tripoli had a program.
“I think this is really going to improve and affect the level of play in the Metro,” Paulsen said. “Linn-Mar is fortunate to get her.
“She knows a lot about the sport, and she’s good at getting the best out of kids. She’s a great role model. She’ll teach those kids a lot above and beyond volleyball. She’s big on team-building and getting the kids to become a team and understand their roles.”