In this edition of Reed Between the Lines: Grafton Bearcats’ Head Baseball Coach Bartsel Keener
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My wife (Angel Keener) and I live in Knottsville with our two children, Dustin (13) and (Ella 5). I have worked for the federal government for 22 years. I enjoy watching sports and hunting.
When did you first decide you that wanted to get involved with coaching?
I was fortunate to have some very good youth, middle school and high school coaches that helped make me who I am today. I knew at that point that I had to get into coaching to give back to the youth of Taylor County in hopes of making a positive impact to children’s lives as they did for me.
Who is your favorite sports hero and why?
Jackie Robinson, because he didn’t allow anyone to tell him he couldn’t make it. He worked his tail off to become one of the best of all time and lead the way for others.
How do you deal with players’ and/or parents’ concerns regarding playing time?
This has become extremely difficult at all levels of coaching. Above all I just try to explain that playing time is earned in practice and how you conduct yourself off the field. There is no glory in practice but without practice, there is no glory. You earn what you get, if you are not happy with your current situation then work harder. Unfortunately, most parents do not share those philosophies and blame it on the coach, which puts the kids into a bad situation. 95% are parent issues, not player issues.
How do you try to make practices fun?
I try to mix it up with competitive drills that get the whole team involved. If you can convince them that they are not running to condition but running to win a competition, generally everyone wins.
How has coaching affected your life?
It has allowed me to truly have an impact on children that are in desperate need. I have devoted the biggest part of my adult life trying to give kids my time in hopes of making a lasting impression that will help mold them into young men and women who can make a difference in the future.
What is your favorite movie about sports?
42 -The Story of Jackie Robinson.
What is the one thing you always do after winning a big game?
I tell the kids how proud I am of them and give them all the credit. I have explained over and over that wins are a result of them carrying out the game plan, hustling, and having heart. Defeats are because I got outcoached.
What are your best and worst memories in coaching?
My best memory is coaching in Cooperstown. My worst memories are seeing kids get hurt and knowing there is nothing you can do to help them.
If you could be a successful professional athlete, what sport would it be?
What one word or phrase do you think describes you?
Give me one word to describe your brother Hartsel.
Where is your favorite away venue to coach a game (in any sport)?
What would you say to a star player who is really struggling out there?
Put that process in the rear view and focus on your next opportunity.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Grafton is my home, so I will remain in Grafton coaching.
What do you think you do well as a coach?
Instill discipline and structure.
How do you plan on improving as a coach from year to year?
Attend clinics, watch videos, and listen to other coaches to gain a different way of saying the same things that may allow kids to learn.
What would you tell a kid who has never played organized sports but is thinking about trying out?
Give it a try. You gain life lessons from sports that will help you with your future endeavors.
What did you think of these questions?
I liked them.
*Each week the Mountain Statesman features a coach or player from a different Taylor County sport. We hope you enjoy the chance to learn a little bit more about them.