He will replace longtime Team USA head coach Rod Ross, who retired in December 2020 after nearly two decades with the program.
“My time with Junior Team USA, first as an assistant and then as the head coach, has been incredibly memorable and rewarding,” said O’Keefe, who served as a Junior Team USA assistant coach from 2010-2017. “I am proud of the success we’ve had and all that the players have gone on to accomplish, but I’m even more proud of the people they’ve become.”
O’Keefe is the director of bowling for McKendree University and will continue in that role, while also leading Team USA.
Prior to his time with McKendree, O’Keefe was the on-site manager for Arlington’s International Training and Research Center, the home of Team USA and Junior Team USA, so he’s very familiar with the layout and capabilities of the state-of-the-art facility used for training Team USA.
O’Keefe earned USBC Gold status from United States Bowling Congress Coaching Certification and Development in 2014. Gold is the highest certification level a bowling coach can achieve.
The 46-year-old will remain based in Shiloh, Illinois, where he lives with his wife, Professional Women’s Bowling Association and Team USA standout Shannon O’Keefe, though he’ll make regular trips to the ITRC for meetings and training camps, plus traveling with the men’s and women’s teams to international events.
He will recuse himself from involvement in all subjective selection processes related to the Team USA women’s program, while Shannon O’Keefe is part of the program.
“Bryan has become one of the premier coaches in our sport, finding continued success at the international and collegiate levels, and we look forward to seeing him continue that while coaching the best adult bowlers in the world,” USBC Executive Director Chad Murphy said. “He also has a great history with the Team USA program and vision for the future. We expect a seamless transition and the chance to build on those established relationships, while building new ones, too.”
During O’Keefe’s time with the Team USA program, athletes have earned more than 120 medals, including more than two dozen gold medals.
He most recently helped Junior Team USA to the top of the podium at the 2019 International Bowling Federation World Junior Championships in France and the 2019 PANAM Bowling Youth Championships in the Dominican Republic.
The Team USA program was on hiatus in 2020 due to COVID-19, and O’Keefe is eager to get the teams back on the lanes for training and competition.
“The last 12-15 months certainly were challenging in many regards, but as things continue to improve, we get more optimistic that it won’t be much longer before we can get the athletes back together and doing what we love,” O’Keefe said. “There’s nothing like getting to represent our country on the lanes, and I’m excited for this year’s team members to get that experience.”
During O’Keefe’s tenure at McKendree, the men’s team captured the Intercollegiate Team Championships title in 2016 and 2018, while the women’s team claimed the school’s first NCAA championship by winning the 2017 NCAA Bowling Championship. The women’s team also won the ITC title in 2017, becoming the second team in history to win both events in the same season.
Long before he was a collegiate coach, O’Keefe competed for the University of Nebraska, earning first-team All-America honors, while helping the Huskers to a national title in 1996.
He also had the opportunity to represent the United States at the 1991 Lee Evans Tournament of the Americas in Florida, where he picked up five gold medals and one silver medal.
O’Keefe will begin his responsibilities immediately, and that includes working with a roster of top-level assistant coaches, featuring Mark Baker, Andy Diercks, Del Warren and a quartet of USBC Hall of Famers in Kim Kearney, Kelly Kulick, Mike Shady and Bill Spigner.
With O’Keefe’s selection, the hiring process for a new Junior Team USA head coach will get underway.