In a world of athletic specialization, SFC’s Keegan Van Egdom is breaking the mold one carry, one shot and one swing at a time
Senior Keegan Van Egdom tore up the Sioux Falls Christian record books as a running back, but he seems more interested in being the best student-athlete he can be no matter what time of year it is and what sport is in season.
The Charger standout has already had a stellar athletic and academic career at SFC barely four months into his senior year. In helping lead his football team to a school-record nine wins, Van Egdom rushed for almost 2,000 yards and scored 21 touchdowns this year (which ranked in the top 10 in South Dakota high school 11-man history) with a gaudy 8-yards-per-carry average. And toss in 36 yards per punt for good measure! Over the course of his career thus far, he re-wrote the school recordbooks at SFC with more than 3,800 rushing yards and 41 TDs.
As impressive as these marks are, Van Egdom says the team success was always the goal, and the memories of the team doing something for the first time in school history will always be a cherished memory. “The individual records are just building blocks for future generations to have a target to shoot for, and I hope younger kids will look at those marks and strive to achieve even more.”
“Our goal was a deep run in the playoffs,” said Van Egdom, who averaged more than 180 yards per game on the season, “but we never liked to look too far ahead; thinking one play and one game at a time would put us in good position down the road, and it did. … We also wanted to leave a winning legacy for younger kids to continue at SFC.” Van Egdom was also very cognizant of the talent that was clearing the way for him; the Charger offensive line was a running back’s dream, with more than a few likely headed for a future of suiting up on Saturdays.
“The line here at SFC was incredible this year, and their drive to make this program better has really been the major difference. Hank DeBerg, Luke DeSautel, Tyler Fawcett, Tanner McCarron, Josh Tornow and Carter Van Gorp — those are the guys that deserve a lot of credit for the success that has happened on the field.”
Since the senior just turned 17 a few months back, Van Egdom will likely add to his present 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame, but he showed he already had the body to handle the rigors of a tough SFC double wing offense as he toted the bulk of the team’s snaps since his sophomore year and is no stranger to the physical demands of his position.
“I did a little of everything,” he said. “I often played an entire game, which consists of around 30 carries, a full game of defense at cornerback, kick/punt returns and coverage. … Playing both sides of the ball is actually something I enjoy. Anything that helps the team succeed is something I am willing to do. If that means never coming off the field to help the team, that’s what I’ll do.”
The Making of a Program
It hasn’t always been easy — or enjoyable — for the Chargers or Van Egdom. Looking back from roughly a decade in, the early years of Charger football “were tough years,” he said, and it was hard not to notice the big losses for the varsity squad when he was in junior high.
“This year’s senior class has always been working to change SFC football,” he said. “… When we were younger, our coaches always preached (the need) to improve steadily. They would direct our attention away from scores and stats and more toward team and individual improvement. We used those previous losses as motivation. We know what it’s like to lose, and we don’t want to go back there.”
Head Coach Jake Pettengill and the staff on the Charger sideline also had the foresight to stay the course while molding their young players.
“Our coaches are very driven and very intentional in what they want to have accomplished,” Van Egdom said. “They realized our program was struggling and knew it would take time for things to improve, but they continued to teach us and motivate us, and now we … can thank our coaches for the countless hours they have invested to get our team to where we are now. Our coaches deserve a lot of credit, as we did things in an unconventional way in 2015 with our running attack. They have endured some questions on our system to get to this point, but they have done so much to get this program to where it is now, and I’m proud that we are proving it can work.”
One benefit of plowing new ground has been the support from everyone at Sioux Falls Christian, which is also fueling the adrenaline surrounding this year’s team.
“The school support and excitement around football has grown drastically,” he noted. “That was a huge goal for us as a team. It is great for our team and great for our school that we can come together through football and the recent success we’ve had. We want to leave the program and its fans in a great place when we graduate, and it’s great to see young kids getting excited about football.”
The Three-Sport Athlete During the Age of Specialization
As impressive as his football career was, it may actually be Van Egdom’s third-best sport — fourth if you include academic success — which leads to some interesting options post high school. In addition to being a 4.0 student, he’s already a two-time all-state centerfielder/shortstop with a career .430 batting average and one of the top returning players in South Dakota Class A basketball for a loaded Charger hardcourt program after a big summer with his AAU team, the Dakota Bucks (16 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists), and with a season of each still to go.
“Being a three-sport athlete is something I’ve always loved,” he said. “Being a part of more than one team, the community and the competitiveness is something I enjoy a lot. It can be time-consuming, especially in the summer, and a struggle at times, but I would never want to do anything else. Could I have added 20 pounds and been a better football player? Could I have leaned down and become a quicker and better basketball player? Probably, but I wanted to enjoy success in all three with all my teammates in high school and worry about those types of specialization things after high school.”
Rather than specializing in one, Van Egdom sees the diversity of the three as a competitive edge that has helped him remain in constant pursuit of excellence and made his upside post-high school an exciting proposition. “The fact that I get to change what I’m doing while continuing to practice and compete is what I love about playing three sports, but it’s always in the back of my mind … what if it would have been just a one-sport focus in high school like so many others?”
When the time comes, Van Egdom aims to lead the way whenever possible.
“Our football team worked very hard to grow together as a team this year. As one of the captains on the team, it was important to me to take a role in leading this team, whether that is communicating on the field, leading by example or conversing with the underclassmen,” he said. “This also carries over to baseball and basketball. In both, … we have high hopes for what we can do. We return a lot of players from last year that have kept improving, (so we’re) hoping we can make it very far in the postseason in both baseball and basketball.”
Beyond that, he is talking to college recruiters about all three sports, but a decision is far from the front of his mind right now. “Right now I am focused on our basketball season and being a great teammate and contributor. Everything else will take care of itself down the road.”
The Chargers are already ranked No. 1 in Class A.
“I really want to enjoy playing all three sports one last time my senior year with the friends I’ve grown up with and shared so many memories with,” he said.
Article written by Ryan Brinks