Veteran Homestead girls softball and football coach Dave Keel, like a wise parent who won't pick a favorite child, won't pick a favorite sport either.

But after 37 years at the helm of the Highlander softball program, a time in which he led Homestead teams to three WIAA state runner-up finishes and numerous North Shore Conference titles, he has set his springtime sport free, stepping down and deciding to spend more time with the family this past winter.

In short, he was giving his enthusiastic and loving wife Pam "a break."

"I started thinking about this last summer," he said, "I gave myself a little time to reconsider, but after this last football season, I decided to do it. The new person (Deb Segebrecht) is very good, and there are some nice players coming back to the program. It will give Pam and I a chance to travel together and visit the grandkids."

Pam Keel's son and Dave's stepson Jason Quale, who was a quarterback on Keel's first Homestead state championship football team in 1999, lives down south with his family, which includes two small grandchildren whom the elder Keels dote on whenever they get a chance.

Keel, who is in both the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association and the Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, led the Highlander girls to 12 WIAA state tournament appearances, including state finals appearances in 1983, 1988 and 2010.

That 2010 finals appearance was special for Keel as that team was anchored by the catcher, his daughter Amy, who took over as Shorewood's head coach last season. The two Keels played a game out in Shorewood last season as Dave's Highlanders beat Amy's Greyhounds.

Homestead finished 16-8 last season as the Highlanders also won a WIAA regional title.

Dave Keel has no intention of giving up football anytime soon. He has led the Highlanders to five state titles, the last of which came in 2015. But he has been retired from teaching for a few years now and understandably wants to enjoy that time a little more.

"We don't get to see the grandkids all that often, and this will give us (he and Pam) a chance to get down there more than once a year," he said. "Pam and I are going to relax a little. We're looking forward to it."