Many of you know Jack Keen. For those who do not, Coach Keen is a former Jefferson High School Track and Field/Wrestling/Cross Country Coach. He served as mathematics department chair, athletic director and Director of the Georgia Olympics. Jack Keen is one of the very best mathematics teachers to ever walk through a classroom door in any school system, anywhere.
In 1987, I was preparing to leave the position of Principal of Jefferson High School to assume the same position at Elbert County Comprehensive High School. My career began in Elbert County. That system had seen fit to name me as a principal long before I had any business being one. One afternoon, Jack stopped by my Jefferson office to talk. As usual, our conversation turned to high school athletics. Jack was familiar with Elbert County and was aware of the athletic potential generally present there. Coach Keen gave me four pieces of advice that I committed to memory as quickly as the words came from his mouth. They were: (1) Build a track; (2) Start a wrestling program; (3) Implement a well designed weight training program; and (4) Make certain the quality of the coaching staff exceeds the quality of the athletes.
Prior to 1987, Elbert County's only state championship had been in Boys Golf. By 1995, Elbert County had won two back-to-back state titles in Boys Track and Field and one in Football. The changes that had transpired within the Elbert County Athletic Program had been in strict accordance with Jack Keen's instructions. These were simple to carry out because the nature of the directions were typical Jack Keen, straight forward, free from double talk and totally accurate. Ironically, two of the coaches that won state titles at Elbert County were to later coach at Jefferson: Head Football Coach, T. McFerrin and Head Boys Track and Field Coach, Brady Sigler.
Coach Keen's impact on Jefferson High School Athletics began in the 1960's. Jack was Jefferson's first wrestling coach, the first Meet Director of the Georgia Olympics, the head coach of 14 State Championship Teams, 111 Individual State Champions, Member of the Georgia High School Coaches Hall of Fame, Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Member of the Georgia Track and Field Hall of Fame and selected as the Jefferson Star Teacher 28 times, etc.
Coach Keen's impact on the pride and tradition that characterizes Jefferson Athletics is widely known and universally recognized. His impact on Elbert County Athletics is not known, and it should be. The structure within that athletic program would never have come to pass without him.