FOXBOROUGH — Neither Phil Sheridan nor Jane Heil is at Peabody High anymore.
Heil retired several years ago, and Sheridan stepped down last year and is now teaching physical education in Lowell. But Lisa Keene can thank them for the honor she received last week from the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association.
Keene, the high school volleyball coach and a Higgins Middle School physical education teacher, was honored with the MIAA’s Distinguished Service Award, one of the most prestigious awards in Massachusetts high school sports.
The ceremony took place May 15 at the annual Girls and Women in Sport Day at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Keene was one of four recipients.
“I’m honored to receive such a meaningful award and it’s very humbling to be recognized after 28 years of coaching and teaching in Peabody,” said Keene. “I have been to many of these ceremonies before and heard so many impressive stories told by so many amazing women who made an impact in women’s sports, so it was just a shock when I heard that I was going to be one of them. You just never think that you are in the same category, to be honest, so I had no idea but was so surprised.”
Keene was nominated Sheridan, the school’s former athletic director; and Heil, former girls basketball coach.
“As a coach, she is passionate about her sport, but it clearly comes across that she is passionate about her girls,” Sheridan said. “Every season she encourages her team to support a charity and give back to the community.”
Keene served as assistant coach of the girls basketball team under Heil, a Peabody Hall of Famer.
“(Coach) Lisa (Keene) is a true champion of girls and women in sports (who) exemplifies what it is to be an MVP (Most Valuable Person),” Heil said.
Keene has served as head coach of the Tanners’ volleyball team for the last 14 years after serving as an assistant for several years.
Keene grew up in Topsfield and graduated from Masconomet Regional High School where she was on the gymnastics team. A University of Massachusetts (Amherst) graduate, Keene lives in Seabrook, N.H. with her husband Jim and sons Jordan, age 21, a student at Keene State University and Logan, age 19, a student at the University of Oklahoma. She was once named the town’s volunteer of the year for her extensive commitment to youth sports, coaching girls and boys basketball, Little League and Babe Ruth baseball, youth soccer and flag football.
“This is just awesome for Lisa to have been recognized,” said Peabody athletic director Bob Bua. “It’s not just the things she does as a coach, it’s the way she encourages her kids to push community projects, like last fall with the leukemia awareness game. She is just a fantastic role model and mentor.”