Growing up in a large Catholic family is OK with St. Pius senior soccer goalie and cross country runner Keagon Klahs.
“It’s helped me and made me what I am today,” Keagon said.
The last of seven siblings to attend the archdiocesan high school in Festus, he’s in a long line of Klahses who have been a big part of sports and academic achievements there.
Having older siblings has taught him a lot. “I can say I’m more mature because of them,” he said.
He’s seen the hard work they’ve put in for their pursuits. Phillip is a professor at Iowa Sate, Kyle is an orthopedic surgeon in the U.S. Army, Sawyer works in computer science and artificial intelligence at Boeing, Lilly is in her second year of medical school, Abby attends Iowa State studying statistics and biology and Luke is a pre-dental student at Creighton University.
A faith perspective
Keagon has enjoyed serving in campus ministry at St. Pius. The Office of Campus Ministry facilitates spiritual life at St. Pius X High School and brings together students, faculty and staff for prayer, worship and learning. It builds a genuine Catholic community at the school through a vibrant sacramental and prayer life as students are exposed to the richness and beauty of the Church’s tradition.
Large gatherings are currently reduced because of COVID-19 restrictions but students attended an outdoor Mass and can visit the chapel during lunch. He’s done that and assisted with prayer services and Mass. “I’m there to help out,” he said, adding that St. Pius allows him and other students to display their faith and take it seriously.
His faith, he said, gives him a positive perspective. On the soccer field, for example, he pointed to a recent game with an overly aggressive opponent came at him and he avoided a response. “My faith has helped me keep perspective. I try to be nice and helpful,” Keagon said.
He praised the teachers and leaders at the school for being role models, helping teach the faith and going the extra step to help students understand their lessons.
Keagon is enjoying fall sports, balancing his schedule to play soccer and run cross country. Soccer is a favorite along with tennis in the spring, but he enjoys being part of the cross country team and the challenge of running long distances. “You have to keep pushing through the pain until the end,” he said.
His soccer coach, Aaron Portell, said “Keagon has earned the spot of playing in as goalkeeper for us this year. This is his first varsity experience as a goalkeeper and (he) is getting better each game. He actually just won us the game last night against a good Hillsboro team by stopping a shot on a penalty kick.”
Keagon’s contribution means much more than that for the team, his coach noted. “He is a very caring team player and can lighten an intense moment at any time,” Portell said
He’s been coming to St. Pius for activities and watching his siblings, who each played three sports a school year, since he was 5 years old. He played with his brother Luke for a couple years in soccer, basketball and tennis. “We’ve always been a part of the St. Pius community,” he said.
He recalled when he was younger hanging out with his siblings at home and doing creative things with home movies such as playing as if they were in the Olympics. He has red hair, so he always represented Ireland. Family functions such as hiking, camping and fishing also come to mind.
End of an era
Keagon’s mom, Debra Klahs, said Keagon’s senior year is “the end of an era.” In addition to being a spectator at high school games, she coached soccer and basketball at their parish, St. Agnes Parish in Bloomsdale, where she is a teacher and principal, and has been a referee and athletic director. Her children also have been soccer referees.
Debra and her husband, Bret, whose grandparents were donors to the campaign that built St. Pius, moved from Michigan to Missouri when their oldest child was a junior. All the children have done well academically and socially, she said. “It’s a family there, they care not just academically but the whole person,” she said.
Surprisingly to the former basketball player, tennis is probably her favorite to watch because it’s more relaxed and has more etiquette. It’s a little stressful to watch soccer right now because a goalie is such an important position, Debra added.