Reed Between the Lines with Coach Hartsel Keener

In this edition of Reed Between the Lines: Hartsel Keener discusses coaching with Sports Editor Scott Reed.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am 42 years old and have resided in Taylor County my entire life. I am married to Kali Keener and we have four kids: Tyler, Bethany, and twins, Kaden and Kenna who are going into the 6th grade at TCMS. I work at the FBI and currently coach football, basketball and baseball at Grafton High School. I also coach the Grafton Bearcubs midget football team and biddy league basketball.

When did you first decide you that wanted to get involved with coaching?

At a young age my brother and I relied heavily on our coaches as mentors. I knew then I wanted to give back to the youth in our community the same way it helped us.

Who is your favorite sports hero and why?

Deion “Prime Time” Sanders. He came from nothing. He did it the right way and became a member of the Hall of Fame. He gives back to his community and youth and never forgot where he came from.

How do you deal with players’ and/or parents’ concerns regarding playing time?

I meet with the parents of each team up front prior to the season starting to discuss my expectations and any questions they may have. I make it known that playing time is earned, not given.

How do you try to make practices fun?

By changing drills daily and making it a competitive atmosphere.

How has coaching affected your life?

As stated above, coaches helped me when I needed it the most and I’d like to think I am doing the same by helping other student athletes that may need my positive guidance in their lives, on and off the field. The classroom will always get you further than the field/court.

What is your favorite movie about sports?

The Blind Side.

What is the best thing about Taylor County athletics?

We are all a family who believe in each other.

What is the one thing you always do after winning a big game?

Go out to eat with my family and friends to celebrate and then get ready for the next win.

What are your best and worst memories in coaching?

It’s too hard to pick just one. The top two best memories would be winning the WV Showdown with my son Kaden’s 9U football team in November and the run to the state tournament this past basketball season and how hard our boys worked to get there. Two great experiences for the athletes! The worst is having to say goodbye at the end of each season. That’s a hard day for me.

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 Bartsel.


Where is your favorite away venue to coach a game (in any sport)?

Philip Barbour. It’s a great rivalry between the schools. No matter the talent level of either team, you know it’s going to be a dog fight.

What would you say to a star player who is really struggling out there?

Stay humble and keep playing the game like you know how. Focus on the things you can control and the rest will come.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Still coaching in Taylor County.

What do you think you do well as a coach?

Bring out the fire in an athlete.

How do you plan on improving as a coach from year to year?

By being a student of the game because the game is always changing.

What would you tell a kid who has never played organized sports but is thinking about trying out?

Give it a try. Positive things happen when you work hard towards a goal.

What did you think of these questions?

Great questions. It made me remember why I love doing what I do for the athletes in Taylor County.

*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.


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