Sports Person of the Week
Pindar’s a Dauntless Defender for the Warriors
Keenan Pindar plays a pivotal role in the backfield for the Valley Regional boys’ soccer team. The senior left back is also a shooting guard for the boys’ basketball squad and a midfielder with Valley boys’ lacrosse. (Photo courtesy of Keenan Pindar )
Keenan Pindar stays busy throughout the year as an athlete at Valley Regional by playing soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and lacrosse during the spring. Now, in his senior year, Keenan and the Valley boys’ soccer team are near the top of the standings in the Shoreline Conference and have a good chance to make some noise in the postseason.
Keenan mostly plays defense for the Warriors on the soccer field. Keenan joined the varsity team as a defender in his sophomore season, but then moved into the midfield as a junior. This year, Keenan is playing the left back position, and he and his fellow defenders have been functioning like a well-oiled machine.
“If the ball comes back to us, we’re looking to close down the play. We have one on-ball and one behind. We work well together as a unit. We want to stop the ball and close off the angles,” says Keenan. “The man with the ball, we look for the right time to make the tackle. If we get the ball, then we’re looking to move it up the field. If not, we have the backup behind.”
As important as physical skill is to Keenan’s game, he believes that traits like communication and situational awareness can be just as vital to success.
“I would say that I’m a good communicator to the team. I’m very vocal on the field. Our whole back line is. I’m helping guide everyone and making sure they’re marking their guys,” Keenan says. “I’m also pretty good at closing in and shutting down passing angles to allow our other players to come and take the ball.”
Keenan has found that being a senior comes with an inherent leadership component. It’s a role that Keenan is happy to play.
“Michael Brooks is the captain of the team, but the senior class works together well. We all sort of take the role of captain, per se,” says Keenan, who lives in Chester. “The younger players look up to us and look for help through practice. We’re all good at helping everyone and being sort of leaders for the team.”
While Keenan isn’t a captain by name for the soccer team, he has earned that title for the Valley boys’ basketball squad. One of the reasons why Keenan was named a captain is because he does everything in his power to help Valley win. That’s also why he received the Warrior-Tough Award.
“Probably one of my biggest accomplishments is getting to be captain of the basketball team. That’s a big deal for me,” Keenan says. “I also won the Warrior-Tough Award. That’s the player that gives it their all, the toughest on the court.”
While are a plenty of differences between all of Keenan’s sports, he feels that playing each of them has helped him develop as an overall athlete. So, even though some skills from one sport may not directly transfer to another, the fact that Keenan plays all of them makes him better at each one.
“I feel that all three of my sports complement each other. Soccer gives me physical fitness that carries into basketball and into lacrosse. Basketball is similar to lacrosse with spreading out and making picks,” says Keenan. “All three sports deal with spacing. They all work in the same realm. Each one gets me ready for the next season. Even if I’m not focusing on one sport, each sport I play is helping me for the seasons to come.”
Keenan was thrown off of his normal athletic routine with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on all sorts of activities this year. Keenan and his teammates on the basketball team had a potential state championship run cut short when the postseason was canceled in the winter. There were no spring sports played across the state, meaning there was no lacrosse season for Keenan, and the soccer season was delayed for a month. Still, Keenan managed to stay positive and keep focused on his conditioning throughout all the downtime.
“It was definitely tough guessing about the senior year. During quarantine, I focused on hitting the weight room and running to keep my physical fitness up. One of my teammates, Sam Helsel, and I worked out through quarantine,” Keenan says. “I’m probably the strongest and most fit I’ve been. We kept our minds on working out, because we didn’t want to think that we wouldn’t have a season. We wanted to be in that top shape, so we could play if we had one.”
Valley boys’ soccer Head Coach Mick Fearon values Keenan’s ability to harry his opponents and get them off the ball. That attribute allowed Coach Fearon to move Keenan from defense to midfield and then back again.
“Keenan’s good at tackling and getting the ball back. He’s an aggressive kid. He breaks up plays and marks the attackers. Probably out of all the players at the back, he’s the most vocal,” Fearon says. “After our loss to Old Saybrook, he said, ‘Guys, remember this game, but we’ve got to move on.’ He has a good outlook—don’t dwell too much. It’s the same with the victories. Enjoy the win, but now we have to focus on the next game. That’s a good thing to have, to not be too high or too low.”
Looking ahead to the final stretch of the soccer season, Keenan feels that his team is in a great position. The Warriors are living near the top of the Shoreline Conference standings, and Keenan knows that they are just as capable of playing a big game as any of the teams in their league.
“Our team as a whole, we work great together. We have our strongest guys on the field to start, and our backups are just as strong. I think we move the ball so well,” says Keenan. “It’s like Coach Mick says, ‘If you can just touch it and pass it, that’s when you win games.’ Our team is very good at that. If we keep up what we’re doing, we have a chance to win big this year. There’s no reason we shouldn’t do great things this year.”