Healing through hoops

Adam Keating holding high school tourney in Father’s memory

Published on January 4, 2014
The Mount Pearl Senior High Huskies’ Zack Matthews goes around the Holy Spirit Falcons’ Paddy Dawe during their game Friday at the Keith Keating Memorial boys high school tournament.

— Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Out of grief can come good.    
Nineteen-year-old Adam Keating is proving that this week with the Keith Keating Memorial boys high school basketball tournament in St. John’s and Mount Pearl.

The tourney, featuring 16 entries, is being held in honour of Keith Keating, Adam’s father and a longtime basketball coach and manager, who died in June after a four-year battle with stomach and liver cancer.

“It was about two weeks after Dad died and a friend (Jordan Williams) and I were talking about the good times we had playing basketball for him,” says Adam Keating, who was coached by his father at O’Donel High, where he was that school’s athlete of the year in 2011.

“The idea of a memorial tournament soon came up and right away, we knew it was a good idea.”

Organizing an inaugural event is no easy matter, but Keating, a second-year engineering student at Memorial University, says it has helped him deal with the loss of his father, who coached basketball at the school and provincial levels, as well as baseball,

‘“We were always close through sports and this is another way of staying close to him,” said Keating, who still plays basketball at the senior division 2 level and in the Inter-City league, and is carrying his father’s coaching tradition through the Court College Basketball program.

“It’s been good for me.”

He received “fantastic” co-operation from coaches of the various high school teams —“I’d say a dozen of them knew Dad through coaching,” —  but adds nothing would have been possible without the support and help of his mother Eileen, of family and friends, and of people like Dr. Carrie Comerford, whose son is coached by Adam, and who also is the wife of Craig McIsaac, who was one of Keith Keating’s doctors at the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre.

“Almost from the very beginning, she’s been on board with this and I don’t know if it could have been done without her,” said Keating. “She’s done so much work all the way through, and this week, she’s been at the gym at 8 o’clock in the morning until the doors close at night.

“She’s been amazing.”

Comerford is just one of dozens of volunteers working the tournament, whose sponsors include Group M5, Hickman Automotive Group, Cowan Heights Dental Centre, Newfoundland Design Associates Ltd., Marco, Rogers Bussey, Toyota Plaza, Court College Basketball, Provincial Airlines, Max Athletics, O’Donel and Stantech.

That volunteer group includes the referees and officials, “Which is huge, because that is usually the biggest cost associated with something like this,” said Keating.

Games in the tourney, whose proceeds will go to the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre, began Thursday and continued Friday at O’Donel gym and Max Fitness on New Cove Road, with semifinals and consolation playoff games set for today. Tier 2 (10 a,m,) and Tier 1 (noon) championship games are scheduled for Sunday at Max Fitness, to be followed by an all-star game.

“The weather and the (power) blackouts have made it interesting,” chuckled Keating. “I think I must have made about 200 schedule changes, but we’re getting through it.”

As for making this the first of what will be an annual tournament, Keating says that’s the plan.

“It’s for a great cause and we have a great group of people already. If we can do it, we will.”