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It's time for a change at B-A

June 8, 2008
The Altoona Mirror
Boo hoo. Poor Tim Keech. He has a knack for gathering sympathy for himself for a situation he alone has created and takes no accountability for.

Sometimes it’s not about winning records or Juniata Valley League or District 6 championships but about how the players are treated, about how a head coach relates to other coaches in the program, how he cares about the junior high and elementary programs, and about being approachable so that problems can be resolved.

But the most important thing that matters is the respect that should exist between the coach and player and vice versa. Those of us who have had sons and grandsons play for Tim Keech, know that all of the above have been sorely lacking for quite some time.

This recent letter to the administration was not the first, and it appears that the complaints about Coach Keech date back a few years. Coach Hayes’ comments in the article about the concerns being typical and not being handled properly don’t provide a true picture of what the real untypical concerns are — and not from several but a large group of parents. I’m not sure if there is a criteria within the Bellwood-Antis school district as to how long they receive complaints about mistreatment of kids by a coach before something is done.

For the past several years, the district has turned a blind eye to the bullying of players by Keech.

There should not be a double standard. Most of the complaints have been dismissed because they have been attributed to disgruntled parents, playing time, etc. None of this is true. The complaints are about how the players are belittled in front of fans and teammates, how they are treated behind closed doors, where the school board and administration don’t know what really takes place, about the image this coach has portrayed with his tirades on the sidelines, and about the decline in the number of boys who want to play for the program.

This is a cycle that needs to be permanently broken for the sake of all future B-A basketball players and the reputation of the program.

Bellwood deserves a coach who knows the game, spends more time with the players in the summer to improve their skills, demands discipline and mutual respect from its players, treats all players as equals, and allows the players to have fun while being taught the game and coached to achieve its goals.

Linda Elvey


Coaching style unacceptable

Is B-A unjustly removing coach Keech? Absolutely not! It is well within their right, and I believe in this case it is their responsibility to let him go.

I had a rare free night in February and took the opportunity to take my family to the Hollidaysburg Senior High School to watch my alma mater (B-A) play United in the first round of the playoffs. That was a big mistake.

I spent the evening trying to explain to my kids why the Bellwood coach was screaming and carrying on the way he was. The way Coach Keech screamed, degraded and publicly humiliated those kids was intolerable. My pride as a former player quickly turned to embarrassment and shame as I listened to the United fans behind me make comment after comment about Coach Keech’s antics.

In all fairness to Keech, I’ve heard from some Hollidaysburg parents that he is a wonderful elementary teacher. It’s a shame that he couldn’t carry that ability from the classroom to the court. He had his shot.

It’s time for a change to someone that can develop strong, competitive student athletes, not publicly humiliate them and crush their spirits.

Steve Haupt


Keech puts kids first

I was dismayed to see the Bellwood-Antis school board voted to open the job of basketball coach.

Tim Keech taught my son when he was in third grade at Frankstown Elementary school. Mr. Keech genuinely likes kids. He understands kids. He’s the kind of adult who remembers what it’s like to be a kid.

I respect his decision not to discuss the matter in the media. However, I think it’s a testament to the character of Mr. Keech that he’s willing to re-apply and give the board, the parents and the program a second chance.

Jonathan F. Grier


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