Neenah High School honored a longtime soccer coach Thursday by naming the field in his honor.
Harry Kelderman has coached more WIAA state soccer tournaments than any other coach – with 16 appearances.
After more than 30 years of coaching Kelderman’s reputation will forever precede him.
“I grew up in the Fox Valley playing soccer for a rival competitor,” says current Neenah boy’s soccer coach Brian Ross. “Neenah was always the best program, team to beat and a big part of that or all of that was Harry Kelderman in the program that he had.”
Harry came to the states from Holland when he was 11.
At that time it was impossible to think he would have had such an impact on the sport he loves.
“I’ve never felt this way before in my whole life and I think the reason I feel that way is because I don’t think of it as such a big deal as most people think,” says Kelderman. “I just think I’ve had a great time, I’ve had a chance to do something in my life that I’ve always enjoyed and been involved with and I’ve had some success with it and that’s awesome.”
The field will forever bear the name Harry Kelderman, but his success goes beyond the Neenah green.
His son Kris played Major League Soccer for years and now coaches UW-Milwaukee’s men’s team.
Something Kris says would not have been possible without his father.
“The fact that I had the privilege to play for him for four years here at Neenah High School, we have memories of our own and it’s an unbelievable evening,” says Kris Kelderman.
Local 5 asked the former coach how he was so successful for so long.
It’s not all about playing the game.
“There’s more to a youngster than just being a player for you, he’s had a life, you have to understand where he’s coming from, what he’s facing and try to help out in whatever way you can,” says Harry.
As the Neenah Rockets launch into another season, Harry is humbled.
Keeping Neenah soccer alive: that was the goal.
“I’m just happy right now, I’m just thrilled to death, it’s such an honor,” says Harry. “I’m so proud of the people that I have been able to work with and that’s all I can say.”
Harry Kelderman was inducted into the Wisconsin Soccer Association Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Neenah Joint School District Hall of Fame in 2018.