One of the best basketball coaches in the state is stepping down to put family first. Tim Kehoe has coached the Lebanon High girls basketball team for 22 years. They've made the state tournament every one of those years and won 4 Division II titles, including an undefeated championship season in 2012-2013 when Kehoe's daughter Emily was a team captain. He has won 423 games at Lebanon.
But some things are bigger than basketball, especially the health and well being of a family member.
"My brother is in a fight with cancer and as a family we want to put him in the best position to win this thing" Coach Kehoe told the NH Notebook. "He is currently going through six weeks of chemo and radiation therapy, which takes place everyday at DHMC, as well as traveling down to Boston once a week. In the course of the next couple of months this will slowly drain his energy. He and his wife Kellie are going to need help with the everyday things that go on at home, as well as with the traveling to and from appointments when needed."
Tim Kehoe's brother is Ed Kehoe, who has also coached girls basketball extensively in the Upper Valley. He has coached at Hartford High in Vermont as well as 15 years at Mascoma Valley in NH, where he won 3 Class M titles. However a month ago Ed Kehoe had surgery to address a brain tumor and now continues his treatment.
"Ed has four kids ranging from 6th grade to a freshman in college. All of his kids are very active in sports and school, so my wife Jen and I will be helping pick up the slack, so to speak, and doing whatever it takes so my brother can focus on his health while not missing anything that's important to his family.
Tim Kehoe has built Lebanon into a girls basketball powerhouse, but in this case he felt stepping down as coach was the right thing to do.
"Basketball has been a passion of mine since I was in 4th grade, but it's not as important as my family" explained Kehoe. "Most people don't realize coaching basketball is a full-time job. If coaches don't put in five hours a day then they are not doing their jobs. You have to be at practice a half hour before and at least a half hour after, but if you get talking to a kid that needs you, sometimes it turns into hours. Then you have 2 hours of video a day, either watching your team or scouting someone else's team. Believe me, coaching is demanding and right now I simply don't have that time."
There were some rumors that Kehoe would step down over the summer, with his daughter Emily now getting set to play college basketball as a freshman at Saint Joseph's in Maine and also after he just won a state title with her.
"I had every intention of coming back this year until the news" said Kehoe. "We went to all the team camps and were ready to go. I informed the kids last week and it was very emotional. Most of my girls have been coached by my brother in AAU. As far as Emily goes, again it had no bearing. Most of her games are 3-plus hours away from our home. I will only be able to attend weekend games either way. On the topic of 'going out on top' I always thought of that as a dumb thing to say as a coach. Coaches win because of their players. Believe me there are some GREAT coaches that have never won a championship. Some of the best seasons I've had had NOTHING to do with winning."
So now the question is if Coach Kehoe is stepping down at Lebanon permanently or just for this winter.
"I resigned two weeks ago but the school administration only accepted a leave of absence for a year" explained Kehoe. "I do not know if I will return. I am hopeful this will be a long, hard fight that we will win.That is my only goal at this point. I am also hopeful that my long time JV coach Rob Marsh will get the job.He is a great coach who knows the kids and the system.Once again I believe Lebanon can make another run at it this year. In (Heather) King and (Samantha) MacDonald, they have two players who should be in the running for player of the year. We lost two great players in Mo and Emily, but our senior group is strong and hungry to prove they can still challenge."
Not only is Kehoe one of the best coaches in New Hampshire, but he is clearly a stand up guys as well. And his sentiments about putting family first, and teaching his players before winning are things we can all learn from. Somehow though, he has maintained these values while also winning over 400 games and 4 championships. That's what makes him such a great coach.
"I have always told the kids family comes first" concluded Kehoe, who also has a son in addition to his daughter Emily. "Family, school, then basketball. Unfortunately, every family that has been hit by cancer knows this pain. It makes you realize that the most important things are the people around you. "As far as basketball goes I will miss the relationships with my kids way more than the game of basketball."
Well said, coach. Best wishes go out to Ed Kehoe in beating this.