The Keith Keating Memorial Basketball Tournament is important for the basketball community in the province.
Last week, members of the basketball community from across the province came together to honour one of their own.
Keith Keating was a respected coach in Mount Pearl basketball. He coached St. Peter’s Junior High School, O’Donel High and was involved in the provincial basketball program. Keating was part of over a dozen provincial championships and was an integral part of basketball in the province for many years.
In 2013, Keith lost his battle with stomach cancer.
Keith coached his son, Adam, all throughout school. He remembers his dad fondly, and wants everyone to be able to do the same.
“[He was] a very quiet guy,” said Adam. “Very organized, very smart. He was the one when you’d run a [basketball] tournament or you’d be at some event, he’d be the reason it was organized. But you’d never know. He was very quiet, kind of the opposite of me.”
Keith fought stomach cancer for four years. Even as the cancer spread, he kept coaching basketball. Adam says his father’s passion for basketball runs deep.
“I think it was pretty huge,” Adam said. “A lot of the kids growing up with us, he was like a parent to a lot of them. That wasn’t just out of school, that was provincial programs and everything else. A lot of my friends on different teams still were close to my dad.”
A way to remember him
When Keith passed away, Adam and his friends started thinking of ways they could remember his father. They came up with one of the things Keith loved to do most.
“The biggest thing he was kind of known for was helping out at all the basketball tournaments. He would always put them off,” said Adam.
The first Keith Keating Memorial tournament featured eight teams. The following year, it doubled to 16. Now in its sixth year, 32 teams from across the province play in four gyms across St. John’s. Teams are eager to sign up for the tournament, with 23 teams signing up in just eight days. Keating says teams tried to sign up before the tournament was advertised.
“To see a bunch of kids care about this and actually ask when it’s going to be each year … I think that’s the impact [Keith] would have wanted it to have.”
Jack Williams is the assistant coach of the Mobile Monarchs senior boys team. He also played in the tournament as a student. He says memorial tournaments are different than regular tournaments in their own special way.
“I guess it’s because of the family aspect,” said Williams. “The people who actually lost someone – they put so much time and work into this. Like Adam, he put so much time and work into this and has done a great job with it.”
Adam says the support from the basketball community has continued to amaze him. Even as time passes and younger players move up through the grades, they continue to support the memory of a man they wouldn’t have known.
“A lot of the coaches knew who he was,” Adam said. “But we see the kids come who want to buy the shirts and want to represent that. To see a bunch of kids care about this and actually ask when it’s going to be each year … I think that’s the impact [Keith] would have wanted it to have.”
Holy Heart of Mary grabbed the gold medal game over the Gonzaga Vikings 85-70. More information about Keith and the tournament can be found at www.keithkeatingmemorialtournament.com