ARLINGTON, Va. – Marymount University athletics saw the tenure of one of the most well-known Division III soccer coaches come to a close last week, as men's soccer coach Keith Moser announced his retirement from the program.
Graduating from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, following two NCAA championships as the starting goalkeeper in 1985 and 1986, Moser had a decision to make after graduation in 1990.
"In 1989, I was a goalkeeping coach for UNC-Greensboro and was offered a full-time assistant job as they were making their transition into Division I," Moser said.
A family decision, Moser turned down the offer and made the move to Northern Virginia with hopes that it was the right move in his career.
"It was the weirdest thing," Moser continued. "I've been around soccer my whole life, it was a big part of my life. And upon arriving here, I was actually looking into pharmaceutical sales and all of a sudden a job opened up here at Marymount for the Head Men's and Women's Soccer Coach."
With the love of soccer still fresh on his mind, he didn't hesitate to apply. He was invited onto campus where he met with former Director of Athletics and long-time women's basketball coach Bill Finney, and "everything just went from there."
"Everything happens for a reason," Moser reminisced. "I remember the one night we had dinner at the country club next door with my in-laws, and I told them I'm just going to walk over to campus and see what it looked like."
"There was something about it. As I'm walking around, the white buildings, it was all lit up, and I'm telling myself right away, 'this feels like home'."
Moser continued to say that it is one of the biggest reasons he has remained in the position as long as he did, finishing up his 29th season in the fall as the men's coach. It always felt like home for him.
"I've been with a lot of different people over the course of my years here, and everyone has always been more than friendly and willing to help each other. It's been like a large family here, and that to me was very appealing."
The longest-tenured coach in all of Marymount athletics, Moser began his duties as both the men and women's coach in 1990, and held the dual job for four seasons before moving solely to men's soccer in 1994.
In his four-year span with the women's team, he had 29 victories and three trips to the Capital Athletic Conference semifinals match.
His coaching career through 29 seasons with the men's program had him accumulate 166 wins, 31 all-conference nods, six all-region honorees, two conference Rookies of the Year, and countless Marymount Athletic Hall of Famers.
As he backtracked on his past 29 seasons, Moser named off so many student-athletes, coaches and more that have touched his life and made his career so enjoyable at Marymount. Some of those student-athletes from earlier in his career, he has watched through their playing careers and later down the road return to Marymount as current coaches and even athletics directors.
"There aren't enough words to thank (Keith) for all he has done for Marymount Athletics," Director of Athletics Jamie Reynolds said. "For many of us, we never knew a Marymount without Keith Moser."
Reynolds has known Moser for half of her life, playing lacrosse at Marymount in the late 90s into early 2000s, returning to coach the lacrosse team in 2007 for eight seasons, and eventually moving in as the Director of Athletics.
"It's hard to believe how long Keith was at the helm of our soccer programs," Reynolds continued. "With that tenure, the number of alumni connections and relationships he has is pretty profound."
"He also impacted a countless number of student-athletes on the field, but where he may have made an even greater impact is off the field. The mentor that he has been for hundreds of young men is remarkable and their gratitude for that always comes up in conversations with our alumni."
Moser touched base on plenty of those former student-athletes that he had the pleasure of coaching and seeing grow into great individuals outside of soccer.
"We have so many unique students here that were not only great athletes, but were also great people," he said. "I've never gotten caught up in records and winning and losing, measuring success on those things, which is easy to do. I think when you measure success, you should also look at the impact of things you might have been able to do in someone's life. In the long run, that will have more of an impact than winning."
And, Moser isn't wrong on that fact, seeing many of his former students return to deliver their thanks and praise for what he has done for those individuals in their life.
"To be quite honest with you, I don't know what I did for them," he continued. "I really don't. To me, I just cared and I didn't mind giving the extra time to help others. I think that's important, and I hope that is the (thanks) they are referring to."
As we all recall Moser's 29 years with Marymount and the impact he has made, to him, he hopes the best for the University and athletics as it continues to move down a very inclined path forward.
In terms of the men's soccer program, he hopes the players and future Saints really dial into success and giving their full attention to the great possibilities that the program can have.
"We have had so many teams that were so close to the brink of being great," Moser said. "But the lack of the extra discipline and sacrifice held them back from crossing that hump."
"If there is a message for the players here now and the future of the program it's to aim high, but to realize that when you set the goal of winning championships, you have to make sacrifices. What I mean by sacrifices is getting in the weight room, doing the things in the off-season. If you want to be the best at something, you have to work at it every day."
Marymount, as a whole, will miss more than just the coach that impacted many student-athletes, but also the great personality that brightened everyone's day at the office.
"His sense of humor," Reynolds added. "He always has a funny story about the past – whether it was about sharing an office with the men's basketball coach, having to buy a lawnmower to cut the grass field before games, or when he coached tennis at a certain point, he is full of many comical stories of Marymount history."
As he turns the page in his career and life, Moser gave his final comments on his time at Marymount.
"One of the things that has impressed me over the time that I've been here is the transformation of the University. The people that come in, you know that everything is going to continue to grow and move forward. You can't hold something back when you have so many people that are passionate about what they do and moving forward. I've always been amazed. There is no limit to where Marymount can end up."
On behalf of the full Marymount athletics department and the rest of the University, Reynolds' final words for Moser on his career as a Saint were, "We wish him the best as he moves on to the next chapter. He knows where to find us and one never forgets the way home."
For the first time in almost 30 years, the Marymount Head Coaching position for men's soccer is now officially open for applications. To view the job posting, please click here.