McKenna Keegan Completes Historic Career


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

McKeena Keegan is a six-time Big East champion for the Wildcats.

Catherine Browne, Staff Writer

Five years ago, a track star entered the Villanova arena unknowing of the bright future ahead of her. Today, McKenna Keegan reflects on her time competing as a Wildcat on the women’s track and field team for the past half decade. 

Throughout her time at Villanova, Keegan has gained much recognition for her high achievements and success in multiple track events. She stated that she has “grown a lot in [her] belief in the program, [her] belief in [herself] … and [her] teammates.” As many Villanovans can probably attest, Keegan shared that “everybody says that the Villanova community is something special,” but she feels as though it is not until one is fully immersed in the culture itself that they truly understand that the community “is one of a kind.”

To Keegan, being a part of the Villanova community is not solely defined by being an athlete, but it’s the additional aspect of being an individual outside of her sport within the greater Villanova community. She expresses her gratitude towards the program as “they put me being a person, before an athlete.”

Keegan has been faced with juggling the tri-fold life of being an athlete, student and an individual outside of her academic and athletic career. From dedicating herself to practice all week and traveling every weekend to meets, to earning her Master’s degree, Keegan said that “it was definitely…a learning curve.” 

But she is not going through this alone. She has the support and influence of her teammates who keep her motivated in each aspect of her life. 

Over the years, the team continues to grow to be a close-knit family. Specifically, during the 2020-21 season, the team was forced to adapt to the changes introduced by COVID-19. The team underwent weekly virtual meetings and needed to find ways to continue training among all of the uncertainty. 

Keegan shared that she encouraged herself to constantly look forward and remain excited for the future. Head coach Gina Procaccio worked to keep the team inspired and motivated by introducing alumni at virtual meetings. 

“It taught us to take advantage of every opportunity that we are given,” Keegan said.

Keegan seems to intertwin this motto within every aspect of her life when she decided to extend her eligibility to compete for a fifth year. 

She did not allow herself to miss an opportunity that came her way. A prime example of her motivation and versatility as an athlete occurred last month at the Raleigh Relays in North Carolina, where she raced in the 1500 event for the first time in her collegiate career and her performance became the leading time in the Big East. 

“I did not want to leave Villanova with any regrets,” Keegan said.

In 2021, Keegan was able to experience something every young athlete dreams of one day pursuing – she qualified and competed in the Olympic Trials. This “surreal experience” allowed Keegan to race against athletes who she has looked up to throughout her running career. She smiled as she described the immense sense of pride and excitement felt as she competed alongside some of her teammates. 

Along with her appearances at the Olympic Trials, Keegan has been named Mid-Atlantic Athlete of the Year three times. She is a five-time all-America, a six-time Big East Champion, an eight-time all-Big East performer and a four-time Penn Relays champion. Although her biography lists her abundance of accolades, she remains humble in saying that she “is not the only one who has gotten to accomplish those goals, [she] has only gotten there because of the people that [she] has surrounded herself [with].” 

Keegan constantly recognizes her gratitude towards her teammates and coaches as her main support system. She does not believe that she would be where she is today without the support of her team who have become her best friends. 

Keegan states that Procaccio “believed in [her] before she believed in [herself].” Although Keegan is very experienced in completing races as an individual competitor, she is a team athlete. She recognizes the large influence her Villanova relationships have left on her and aiding in her success. 

Ultimately, Keegan radiates a positive and fulfilling attitude towards each opportunity she is granted with. She has utilized every possibility to become more experienced in races and encourage growth within the confines of the team through her extensive leadership skills. She continues her family legacy, as multiple family members graduated from Villanova, along with her uncle, who also ran track for the Wildcats.

“I knew coming in that it would be something special, I just don’t think I realized how special my time would be here,” she said.

After Keegan’s five successful years wearing a Villanova singlet, there are only a few more meets of her career as a Wildcat. 

Keegan shared that she “hopes to live up to the expectations that people have set out for [her].” She strives to pursue even larger goals and speaks for the team as they desire to win a wheel in the Penn Relays this weekend and return home with the Big East Championship title in May. Personally, she strives to make it to the NCAA Final in the 800 meter event, as she continues to push herself to perform at a higher level than she did during the indoor season. 

Currently, her plan is to continue her running career after she finishes her Master’s in Public Administration. 

“I am trying not to put too much pressure on it,” Keegan said as she continues to train through the same open mindedness for the future. 

Over the past five years, Keegan has evidently created a legacy as an athlete and student at Villanova. Her versatility and skills as an athlete and natural leadership abilities will be greatly missed within the team and greater Villanova community. As the season comes to a close, Keegan continues to carry herself with much humility and dedication to confidently complete her time as a Wildcat.