Kurt Keener ’78 chose the men’s basketball program and Wittenberg University because of a “great tradition of success” and because “I have always been a competitive person, and I like winning.” Since graduating from Wittenberg with a degree in education, Keener has been imposing those same standards upon his players at Detroit Country Day School, and the results speak for themselves.
Heading into the 2002 Michigan High School state basketball tournament, DCDS was among the best teams in the state with a 19-1 record. That’s hardly a surprise considering Keener entered the season with a 437-131 overall record, 14 district titles, eight regional crowns and six state championships under his belt.
Along the way, Keener has
coached numerous athletes who
have gone on to play college
basketball as he did. Two of them
are now stars in the National
Basketball Association and among
the brightest sports stars in the
nation today — Shane Battier of
the Memphis Grizzlies and Chris
Webber of the Sacramento Kings.
He is proud of their accomplishments
and his own, but rather
than take credit, he offers praise
to the people at Wittenberg who
influenced him and put him on
this career path.“First and foremost, I
respected the teachers and coaches
I met at Wittenberg,” said
Keener, who played on theNCAA Division III
team in 1977
and was named an
after the season.
“I saw how they
interacted with young
people, and I wanted
to be able to have the
same impact on others that they had on me and my
In citing the contributions of such educators as
Bob Hartje, Cynthia Behrman, Bob Hamilton,
Larry Hunter and Dave Maurer, Keener said he still
draws upon his Wittenberg experiences in his daytoday dealings with young people.
He recalls being
genuinely excited studying history thanks to the hardwork of his professors, and he reflects positively on
the way Wittenberg coaches cared about their
players.“I was most impacted by people,” said Keener,
who has had two former players, Rodney Gilbert ’84
and Troy Hudson, continue their basketball careers
at Wittenberg. “From Coach Hunter, I learned that
life was full of setbacks, and he taught me how to
keep on battling back.
I also learned how valuable
loyalty was in building a successful program.”
Keener is now the athletics director at DCDS
and chairman of the board of directors of the nonprofit
foundation Time-Out for Life, which “seeks
to promote greater awareness for organ and tissue
donation.” Keener and his wife, Nedra, helped
establish the foundation in 1999 after he donated a
kidney to her. They reside in Southfield, Mich. today
with two teenage sons, Jaron and Joey.