By: Tyler Trumbauer
The words “guidance” and “confidence” are two that haven’t been used in the same breath when talking about Palmerton boys’ basketball.
However, the Blue Bombers new head coach plans on instilling that into the program and the current players as soon as possible.
After Mick Stefanak resigned during this past season and an assistant coach took the reins to finish out the winter, the Stefanak era that lasted only two years and amounted a measly four wins was capped off. Palmerton was left with a head coaching vacancy in what is not a very appealing program to prospective candidates. To Leigh Keenan though, Palmerton was the perfect fit.
“I have a very strong opinionated type of personality that I’d like to do things my way,” Keenan said. “I think my way is beneficial to them, to the actual people that I will be coaching. I didn’t want to fall in to an older style of play. I didn’t want to be a JV coach and go in to someone else’s program. I wanted to turn a program in to a new direction. I didn’t want to just influence a team. I want to influence a program. That’s why I picked Palmerton. They needed help. They haven’t had success. They haven’t had a stable coach.”
Keenan is a local, he graduated from Northampton High School. After his years as a K-Kid, the 6’6” Keenan went on to East Stroudsburg University and then Kean University. He played collegiately at Kean. He is a manager of Primo Hoagies in Trexlertown and in May was approved as the new Head Boys’ Basketball Coach at Palmerton High School.
The first-year head coach has a vision of what he wants Palmerton basketball to be.
“I want them to carry themselves with confidence. I want them to walk with some swagger. I want them to have confidence in themselves that they can do it by themselves. They don’t need a coach or an outside help. They need to have a mindset of ‘I can do this.’ I want to instill that in to them. With success comes happiness and I want them to have that.”
On his staff Keenan will have Brett Seaver as a JV coach, who is an assistant at Catasauqua, but will be leaving to join up with Keenan. His freshman coach is, Jeremy Coleman. Coleman is a gym teacher at Palmerton High School and will be the coach that is close to the players through the school.
Being a head coach that isn’t an employee of the school district is not unusual. With that being said it can make life harder for a head coach. Keenan, however, feels that it is both a positive and a negative.
“It would be beneficial to develop a program that is a family like program, but I feel that it isn’t a negative because they are adolescents. They are teenagers and with teens they want their freedom. I’m willing to give that to them. They can develop on their own. I don’t need to necessarily always be there in a basketball sense. I want them to have their own identity and then I also want them to have an identity through me and through Palmerton basketball.”
There is no shying away from the fact that Palmerton basketball has been on a downward spiral in recent years. Keenan could be the coach that changes the atmosphere surrounding the Blue Bombers on the hardwood and brings them back to relevancy in the Colonial League.