Sept. 6, 2011
BY DREW RUTHERFORD
Everything happening in Ron McKeefery's life was leading him to Tennessee. At least that's what he believes.
"Everywhere I've worked, all the things I've done in my career, I did to try to get to an elite program like Tennessee," McKeefery said. "I had a chance to work for a guy who believed in the same things I did and at the level that I strived my whole career to get to - this was just a phenomenal opportunity."
The first-year strength and conditioning coach fits Tennessee like a glove. But the better fit, he says, is working for head football coach Derek Dooley.
"From everything I knew about Coach Dooley and everything I'd heard, it seemed like it was all in line with what I believed as well," McKeefery said. "I don't want to just be involved with strength and conditioning, I want to be involved in our student-athletes' lives. I tell our guys all the time that my job is to make them better husbands, fathers and citizens. If I can do those things right there, then football takes care of itself."
Upon arriving on The Hill in January, the Missouri native began observing the differences that separated Tennessee from many other places.
"The first thing that stood out to me was the passion - not just here at the university, but in the community," McKeefery said. "Everybody bleeds Orange. This is a real deal."
Worked with U.S. Army Special Forces
McKeefery boasts an impressive career that has taken him to a lot of interesting locales. Most recently, he served as the human performance coordinator for the U.S. Army Special Forces, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, at Fort Campbell on the Tennessee-Kentucky border.
Prior to that stint, he served as the strength and conditioning coach at South Florida. He has worked for the Kansas City Royals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he spent one season with the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe.
But now, Knoxville is home for McKeefery, his wife Angela and their three children: Tyler, Ava and Maya.
"My family has been taken in, not only by the people here at UT, but by the community, too," McKeefery said. "My wife said the other day, within just a few weeks of living here, that she felt more at home in Knoxville than after 13 years in Tampa. This is the kind of place where your kids can go run around and come home when the lightning bugs come out."