Catching Up With Coach Jim Keith

Coach Jim Keith (Believe Productions)

When Laura’s high school honored their former all-state basketball players in February of 2010, the story that appeared on this blog had more to do with her famed high school coach, Jim Keith, than it did about Laura. The bond between the two, developed many years ago in high school, remains strong today.

Many others must feel the same way. That simple little story is the run-away most popular read in the two years of this blog. Google reveals the story as top-ranked for many searches using the Jim Keith name. Every day since being published there are hits on The All-Stater and Coach story. Then there are days when readers come in tsunami waves.

Laura and I believe the surges come when the movie Believe in Me is broadcast on cable movie channels. The story dramatizes Keith’s early years as a girl’s basketball coach in western Oklahoma. Usually, when the basketball season begins or nears its season-ending championship games, the movie channels fill up with Believe in Me and other basketball movies giving reason for the large jumps in readership after people watch the movie.

However, of late, there have been very large surges in readership resulting in numbers quite high for this small blog. What worried me is that many of the most popular stories that have appeared on this blog have dealt with death of people I knew well and were loved or respected by many others.

Fortunately, that is not the case with Keith. That does not mean that all is well with him. Through a Facebook friend, Laura discovered that the 84-year-old coach has battled stomach cancer. Surgery removed major portions of his stomach leading to dramatic weight loss. The once strong and robust man now weighs 115 pounds. Yet, when Laura called him, his voice carried the same warm, friendly and caring tone that has made Keith a favorite of mine even though I have known him only a few short years.

In the conversation with Laura, Keith’s loss of his beloved wife, Jorene, in October of 2009 still strains his devoted heart. After a 61-year marriage, it is easy to understand just what Jorene meant to Keith. However, life does go on. A life-long friend provides some needed companionship, but both know that replacing Jorene is impossible and both are content with that. Thankfully, his faithful black lab, Ruthie Rose, provides continued comfort.

When Keith made his move to the small town of Sayre in the early 60’s and reluctantly became the coach of the girl’s team, he dealt with many challenges that would have broken a lesser coach and man. Overcoming those challenges led to a career of lasting impressions on many more people than ever expected as the continued readership attests. My lasting memory of Keith at Jorene’s funeral was how important it was for him to comfort others when everyone in attendance was there to comfort him. Cancer will never rob Keith of his strength of character.

Coach Keith assured Laura that with time and God’s grace, overcoming cancer is just another challenge. He promised he would see us in Lawrence this winter when Oklahoma comes to Allen Fieldhouse to play KU. We both pray we will see Keith to thank him again for being such a big part of Laura’s life and now a part of mine.

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About jeffjacobsen

Thank you for reading my blog, Here I Stand. You can read all about me, my wife and my family on the Family page. God bless and keep you.
This entry was posted in Family, Sports and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Catching Up With Coach Jim Keith

  1. Beth Brown says:

    What an amazing man. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Pingback: The All-Stater and Coach | "Here I Stand"

  3. Pingback: Jim Keith Passes Away | "Here I Stand"

  4. La Bestia says:

    Have just seen the movie ” Believe in me”, and all I can say is
    RESPECT about this man !

    • E.Mayse says:

      This movie was excellect! it brought tears to my eyes but also made me smile, thanks for a great movie about real people and Mr.Keith. This is a definite keeper and I suggest this movie to all!!! title Believe in Me.

      E.Mayse

  5. I just now saw this movie,,,I have been a girls’ basketball fan for 60 yrs,,,also coached them for several years,,,and had not heard of this awesome coach and his teams & success,,,I love it,,,now I want to read all about him & those teams!!!

  6. amazing, touching, and revolutionary moment for all women!!!

  7. Peggy Peek says:

    Here I Stand and Believe In Me. What fabulous statements! I too havejustwatched the tender, and very interesting,movie. I live I new Zealand, and I applaud people with the attributes that Coach Jim Keith had.

  8. Rae says:

    Coach Keith, if you read this, and I’m sure you do as you coached Laura, the wife of the man who made this loving and happy website, please know you’ve touched more people than you know thru the movie Believe in Me. The girls also, and the way you handled your challenges! I encourage you to think with the same limitless sense of good, that you did as a Coach, and express God’s ageless, limitless qualities, which we all have since we are made in God’s image and likeness. I fell in love with your wife too and I know she coached you to play on, and play well. Big hugs and kisses from Texas.

  9. Maria says:

    Wow, I admire to Mr. Jim Keith. He is an icon of Basketball History. Sorry for his beloved wife.

  10. Joyce Reid says:

    What an amazing and kind individual, who just believed in his girls. May he now rext in peace with his loving wife.

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