Thanks to a unanimous vote by the Boardman school board on June 28, Dan McKeown is the new Spartans’ boys basketball head coach.
McKeown takes over for Jim Goske who was the coach of the Boardman boys for the past three years. Although McKeown is new to the varsity Spartans, he is no stranger to the Boardman basketball community because he had been the freshman basketball coach for three seasons. Before that he was an assistant on the Ursuline varsity staff for the same amount of years.
While coaching the Boardman ninth-graders McKeown built a trust with the current batch of Spartans seniors.
"I'm familiar with this senior class," said the new Boardman boss. "They are the first group of freshmen I had (as freshman coach)."
Although the Spartans struggled at times in 2009-2010, McKeown believes his new team can compete if it can make up for its lack of height with some skill and speed.
"These kids can shoot," McKeown mentioned. "We do not have a lot of size so we will need to spread teams out and attack the rim. We will play an open style and I will have to tailor some things to fit our personnel."
If this Boardman bunch does not finish with a winning record this winter it will not be due to a lack of effort. Coach McKeown will demand hustle and respect from his boys.
"The kids will play hard for me," McKeown insisted. "(I will get them to) believe in what I teach. They will be expected to play smart, shoot well and play together as a team."
That team concept which McKeown preaches about is a lot more than just lip service. The coach truly believes that unselfishness is a huge way for the Spartans to sustain success in the rigorous Federal League.
"The talent (in the Federal League) is too good for us not to play together," said McKeown.
The bulk of Boardman's Federal brothers are bothersome too.
"Size of (Federal League) teams is a concern," McKeown acknowledged. "These teams are big, strong and athletic. We must play physical and get stronger."
Regardless of how the Spartan cagers perform they will definitely be well versed in basketball 101.
"We will breakdown the fundamentals and all of the little things right," McKeown maintained. "That has always been my coaching philosophy."
It has also been Mckeown's philosophy to put family in front of everything. McKeown's wife Sherri has lent tons of support to him throughout his coaching career and she'll continue to do that now that her husband is in control of the Boardman varsity program.
"She loves being around the kids," said McKeown happily.
Coach McKeown also has two sons he is very proud of in 20-year-old Sean and 15-year-old Ryan. Ryan will be trying out for the Spartan ninth-grade team this year, the same team his father first coached at Boardman. While his two boys are his pride and joy, McKeown will now attempt to spread that family spirit to his extended group of kids. That is the only way Dan McKeown knows how to coach.
"We have to become a family," he said sternly. "I have been preaching that since I started coaching."