Bill Keenist tells students to get involved 2011.05.18

Written by David Green.

bill_keenistBy DAVID GREEN

Everyone faces adversity in their life—some more than others, some worse than others, but everyone will have some tough times.

How you respond to the troubles will color your life and determine your future.

That was the message presented Friday by Bill Keenist, senior vice president of communications for the Detroit Lions.

Keenist spoke to Morenci’s seventh through twelfth graders at the invitation of Taz Wallace, the school’s athletic director. The two met when Keenist’s son played football at Adrian College.

For Keenist, a big challenge came in his junior year of high school when a knee injury put an end to playing football, his favorite sport.

He wallowed in his misery until a friend snapped him out of it by suggesting that he work for the school newspaper.

“If you can’t play sports, write about it,” his friend suggested.

He did and possibilities blossomed, eventually leading to the career he has today with the Lions.

“When adversity hits, accept it as an opportunity for growth,” Keenist said. “Do we quit and back off or do we move forward?”

It’s a guarantee that challenging, adverse situations will arrive; it’s a person’s reaction that can bring growth and gain.

Making mistakes is easy, Keenist said, and there’s only one way to prevent that: Sit in the bleachers and do nothing.

“It’s easy not to compete,” he said, framing life’s challenges in terms of athletics, “but that’s not life. You need to enter the game and compete.”

Keenist, a 25-year veteran with the Lions organization, spoke about the extra effort made by running great Barry Sanders. Long after everyone had left to go home, Sanders was still in the training room.

“He was making himself better when no one was looking,” Keenist said. “He did the right thing when no one was looking.”

It’s easy to do the right thing when others are around, but when the lights are out and it’s only you—that shows integrity.

Doing the right thing, he added, is often not the popular thing, and its rewards may be months or years down the road. The commitment to do right shouldn’t be made to a teacher or a coach, he said, but to yourself.

“Every day you have the opportunity to be part of something,” Keenist said, and he urged students to get involved in school activities. He was pleased to see there was a band member among the players on the small football team.

Keenist, a board of education member with the Oxford school district, spoke of the cliques that have long been present in schools, and of how he sees through them.

“There’s no such thing as the cool clique,” he said. “It’s all one clique. Through all of your differences, you’re very much alike.”

The world is a very diverse place, he said, but underneath we’re all very similar with shared likes, dislikes and concerns.

“This is a special, special time in your lives,” Keenist told his young audience. “Take advantage of it. Get involved. Don’t be afraid to fail. We’ll all face adversity, but we keep getting back up on our feet.”

  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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