2015 marked by growth, loss, compassion

New construction captured many headlines during the year 2015 in The Laker/Lutz News coverage area. But, so did traffic issues and changes happening in area schools. Other news chronicled setbacks and tragic losses. But, there were inspiring stories, too. Tampa Premium Outlets, a 441,000-square-foot mall with 100-plus designer brand shops, opened in October off State Road 56, near the … [Read more...]

Kris Keppel honored at Flapjack run

The annual Flapjack 5k and 1-mile Fun Run on Dec. 13 honored the memory of Kris Keppel, a popular cross-country coach who died earlier this year after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. Keppel, who previously directed the race, was described by those who knew him as being a role model who helped to shape the Land O’ Lakes community, not only by running and encouraging people to stay … [Read more...]

Land O’ Lakes student captures top art prize

For the second consecutive year, a Land O’ Lakes High School student has won top honors in U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis’ Congressional Art Competition. By winning the competition, Izzie Brown will receive two free airline tickets to Washington D.C., to attend a reception, and her work will be on display at the Capitol building for a year. Last year, Trevor Nichols won the honor for a pencil … [Read more...]

Coach Kris Keppel exhibits grace to the end

The impact that Joel “Kris” Kristan Keppel’s life had on those who knew him was exhibited in all sorts of ways last week in Land O’ Lakes. Keppel, a revered cross-country coach at Land O’ Lakes High, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on Jan. 25. Land O’Lakes High Principal Ric Mellin notified the school’s staff and students with this recorded message: “It is with a heavy heart … [Read more...]

Forever the Keppel Way at Land O’ Lakes High

The crowd was there to watch the football teams from Land O’ Lakes and Sunlake high schools take the field. But for several minutes before kickoff, they were all chanting something much different: “We love Keppel!” Kris Keppel, who spent more than two decades as the coach of the Land O’ Lakes cross-country team, and even longer as a teacher, was given that ovation during last Friday’s game. … [Read more...]

In Print: There’s only one way, the Keppel Way

Kris Keppel is the last person who feels he deserves all the accolades he's received lately. While he had to retire as both a cross-country coach and a teacher for Land O' Lakes High School earlier this year because of his battle with pancreatic cancer, Keppel still has to admit, what he's done — and always has done — is inspire. And that's what he wants to keep on doing. "It's pretty … [Read more...]

Keppel ‘uncontested winner in our eyes,’ principal says

The community came together to vote for Kris Keppel, but in the end getting the most votes was just not enough for the Land O' Lakes High School cross-country coach as he just misses winning a national award. Instead, Brooks Running Co. named Renee Williams-Smith of Manhattan Beach, California, as its Inspiring Coach of the Year. Williams-Smith joined what was then a male-dominated … [Read more...]

Coach Keppel takes narrow lead in national contest

There are just hours left in a national contest that could send a popular Land O' Lakes cross-country coach to Seattle to become America's most inspiring coach. But he needs all the votes he can muster to keep that lead. Kris Keppel is competing for the Brooks Inspiring Coaches Award, offered by sports apparel and equipment manufacturer Brooks Sports Inc. Since last month, Keppel has … [Read more...]

Still time left to vote for Keppel in national contest

Time is running out to vote for Land O' Lakes cross-country coach Kris Keppel for a national award, and he still has a little catch-up to do so that he can take over first place. As of Thursday morning, Keppel had 4,679 votes through the Brooks Inspiring Coaches Award. The contest is administered by sports apparel and equipment manufacturer Brooks Sports Inc., and already has won the Gator … [Read more...]

Keppel looking for more votes in national contest

There is still time to vote for Land O' Lakes High School cross-country coach Kris Keppel for a national inspiration award. Keppel, as of early Thursday morning, was in second place nationwide in online voting for the Brooks Inspiring Coaches Award. The contest is administered by sports apparel and equipment manufacturer Brooks Sports Inc., and already has won the Gator cross-country … [Read more...]