By Hank Bond
The Greenup Beacon
A lifelong love of basketball has, including 10 years as a varsity assistant, has earned Ron Keeton a shot at coaching the Raceland High School girls’ basketball team.
This job comes to Keeton who is a 1981 graduate of Raceland.
Ron is the son of Lonnie and Madge Short Keeton.
The 52-year-old is married to Kathy Gilliam Keeton and the couple has two children, both daughters, Kyra and Krystal Keeton.
On a fulltime professional basis, Keeton owns his own business.
“I own a wholesale Screen printing shop with a small retail apparel store: Distinctive SpecialTees, Inc. in Raceland. We have been in business for 23 years, opening in 1992.
“We do custom printing primarily on garments for schools, businesses, churches and just about anyone who needs custom printing needs.
As for basketball, Keeton offered, “I have coached or been involved in basketball at some level since elementary school. I have been a varsity assistant for the past 10 years and was named the Raceland Girls’ Head Coach on July 23.
“As far as becoming the head coach, I believe I have reached this level primarily because of my love for the game of basketball and the enjoyment of working with kids and trying to help them achieve their dreams and goals in life.
“This is true not just on the court but off it as well. Coaching gives you the unique ability to try to impact a kids life in a positive manner and I hope that has been as much a reason as any that I have reached this level.
“Obviously my persistence and dedication to our school has helped me get here. This was my third time applying for the head coaching position and having been on the sidelines the last 10 seasons hopefully they saw in me someone who loves the program and wants it to flourish.”
Keeton takes his lifelong interest and participation in the sport and has moved on to help him achieve his shot at the head coaching position.
“I’ve played basketball since the sixth grade and have loved it ever since.
“My cousin Harold “Weasel” Ratliff was the head boys’ basketball coach at Raceland in the 1970s, so I have been around coaches and the game for most of my life.
“I have coached elementary teams and a couple travel teams when I was much younger.
“I served as boys’ basketball booster president in the 1990s. I worked closely around the program and watched and learned from Shawn Johnson our boys’ head coach at that time.
“When Bob Trimble became the head girls’ coach in 2005, he asked me to be a part of his staff. Coach Trimble gave me a great level of input over the years and helped mold a lot of my philosophies coaching wise.
“One of his best abilities as a coach is that he gives his assistants a great level of latitude to give input and then ultimately makes the decision he feel best allows his team to succeed.
“It certainly helped me grow as a coach and hopefully has prepared me for this next step.”
Looking at this new opportunity Keeton can pinpoint his trip to this new opportunity.
“I have developed a philosophy that I hope has been shaped by the many successful coaches I have had the privilege to coach with and against.
“As a high school coach you don’t get to recruit the type of player to fit your system, but you take what you have and try to shape it into a cohesive unit that can compete and succeed hopefully at the highest level.
“With that being said, you are always watching coaching styles and players and trying to find just that right combination to fit your team so that they can flourish as individuals and as a team.
“Your goal each day is to try to find a place where each of your players are in a position that they can experience individual success, all the while fitting it within what makes your team its best.
“We want to foster individual success but ultimately we are all graded on team success.”
Keeton is specific in his goals for the Raceland girls’ team.
“My goal is to bring a region championship to Raceland in basketball. And not just an All “A” Classic region title, but the big crown.
“I’ve been around Raceland my entire life and this is something I want our community and school to experience.
“You have recently seen a school our size on the boys’ side cut down the nets at Johnson Arena in Morehead, so when you hear it can’t be done at a small school, just look to Sandy Hook and you will find just that size school with multiple region titles.
“West Carter won the girls State Title in 2000, sure they have a couple hundred more kids in their building than Raceland, but it’s not a huge contrast.
“It’s about having a mindset that we can and will compete with schools larger than us. It’s the current system and we have to find a way to compete on a consistent basis.
“Dreaming big and setting lofty goals are what we are going to be about.
“Having dreams and working to reach those dreams to the best of your ability is success. Many people believe if you don’t reach your goal that’s the definition of failure.
“Failure truthfully though is never having dreams to reach for. We want to foster every player’s dreams on and off the court.”
While Ron can quickly point to his hard work in reaching the head coach’s slot he can point to so many who have helped him along the way.
“I honestly could give you an endless list of people who have shaped my life to where I am now.
“I have been so blessed to have countless relatives, friends, and colleagues along the way. But I must give the majority of credit to my parents, Madge and Lonnie Keeton.
“Every success I have received in life is born out of the things they taught me and demanded of me.
“I couldn’t ask for better parents, their love and support and the lessons they taught me have shaped me into the person I have become and hopefully I have succeeded at being just exactly the same as them.
“When someone says “you are so much like your Mom or Dad” well that’s the best compliment I can get.
“There are so many special things that sport in general give you. But honestly the relationships built with players and coaches are foremost to me.
“And that’s not exclusive to just Raceland. I cherish friendships with so many kids and coaches of our opponents through the years as well. I have made so many great friends with some of our biggest rivals.
“And if there is anything I can ever do for a kid or coach in our area, I want to help. Seeing the success of people you call friends is special, despite sometimes coming at your expense.
“I can relate a story to you from 2012 to illustrate just what I speak of. District rivalries with local schools are unique things.
“Of course you don’t want to lose to these teams, you in fact take great pride in beating them in competition.
“But you are neighbors and in many cases you share so many things personally and professionally that you can’t help but become friends many times.
“Jay Fite and Mandy Layne are the head coaches of two of our district opponents and they are two people I call very good friends.
“But in the District Finals in 2012 we are facing Lewis Co and Jay Fite.
“Unfortunately for my Lady Rams, Lewis County defeated us for their first District Title.
“It was heart wrenching watching our 3 seniors, along with the rest of our team, my own daughter included, sit with tears in their eyes as they sat watching the Lewis kids and their huge fan base celebrate their first title.
“You hurt so much for your team as a coach, all the while you look at kids and friends from your opponent and you can’t help but feel somewhat happy for them to experience such joy as well, these are your friends, how can you not feel glad for them all the same.
“Sports like life, brings you joy and sadness sometimes even in the same moment.”
Keeton hopes to create an atmosphere of unity in the Raceland program.
“We have to come together as a group and work hard at becoming a team. That takes an effort from everyone in our program.
“We want to be a fun team to watch that plays hard and leaves everything on the court each night. If we can get commitment and togetherness from everyone within and around our program success is sure to come.
“Foremost though we have to believe we can win every night we step on the floor. And that has to be something in your heart and not just something you say. Believing in yourself and your teammates is vital.
“Our motto this season is going to be “Find a Way.”
“We just have to “Find a Way” to get the job done, regardless of the opponent.”
In conclusion, Keeton said, “I have an incredible support system within my family. My wife Kathy is a teacher at Raceland and has been a basketball coach here for quite a while.
“She was a JV Coach with Randy Vanderhoof thru the 1980s. And we have been together on the sidelines for most of the past 10 years.
“Kathy’s father Ralph Gilliam Sr. is in the Pikeville High School Athletic Hall of Fame and was an All-State Basketball player in the 1950s.
“Kathy’s Brother is the head football coach at Boyd Co. My oldest daughter Kyra graduated from Raceland and Shawnee State.
“She played tennis at Shawnee State and is currently employed at Raceland as an ESS Tutor and Head Girls Tennis Coach.
“My daughter Krystal will be a senior on our team this season. My Nephew Eric is the head Softball Coach at Greenup Co and my Brother Bob is his assistant.
“In just a few recent years we have had several family members achieve All Area status athletically.
“Daughter Kyra Raceland (Tennis), Daughter Krystal Raceland (Basketball), Nephew Bryce Keeton Raceland (Tennis), Nephew Austin Gilliam Rowan Co. (Football), Nephew Shawn Gilliam Ashland (Football).
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