TC St. Francis Winning for Haske

TRAVERSE CITY – Shocked and disappointed.

Those were some of the emotions the Traverse City St. Francis boys and girls basketball programs experienced when they were summoned into their school’s chapel last fall to learn coach Keith Haske’s stage IV throat cancer had returned.

"I think, he just affects everyone he meets in such a strong positive way,” St. Francis senior Juliana Phillips said. “It seems like he can conquer anything in the world and he has conquered so much and he is here with us today and that’s more of a blessing than any of us could ever ask for.”

"Just the fact that this great man who honestly has never done anything to deserve something like this is just going through it a second time just really amazed me and shocked me that this could happen again,” added St. Francis junior Sarah Chouinard.

Despite his recent diagnosis Haske has been at all but a handful of games and practices, showing his players not even cancer can stop him from doing what he loves.

“I know he said that his main motivation in getting back was us and was being able to be back on the court with us because he missed us so much and missed being there with us and being at practice every day,” Chouinard said.

"It’s kind of the time in my life where you just get focused on something else,” added Haske. “It’s great, for those hours you just kind of escape it."

This winter, Haske has brought the best out of both programs, as the girls currently find themselves atop the Lake Michigan Conference standings, leading Kalkaska by a half game, while the boys lead the way in the league by a game over Elk Rapids.

Both programs are looking to deliver the longtime high school coach his first state championship.

"I think last year I brought the goal to them and this year, they are kind of bringing the goal to all of us, having lived through it and the excitement of it,” Haske said. “They’re excited, they talk about it a little bit."

"This year, I think our mindset has changed a little bit, in the way that we want to do that again for him, but, you know, kind of finish what we started,” added Phillips.

The goal of a return trip to the Breslin Center is helping keep the focus on the basketball court.

"He could be in more pain than any of us can imagine but, you know, he’s not going to show us and he’s just going to still push us in games and in practice to be the best players we can be,” Phillips said.

"I don’t think you really live in the moment until you go through something like this. I mean, you give it mouth service, ‘Yeah, I’m going to live in the moment,’ but until you have actually gone through something like this, you really appreciate every day and every practice and every kid,” added Haske. “It’s just a super gift to me."

Categories: Boys Basketball, Girls Basketball