The future is here

McNary head coaches Ryan Kirch and Elizabeth Doran will be starting a new youth basketball program in Keizer this fall (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

Part of maintaining a culture of success in high school basketball is having a high-quality youth program, which is why McNary boys and girls varsity coaches Ryan Kirch and Elizabeth Doran are teaming up with Keizer Youth Basketball Association (KYBA) to create the new Future Celts basketball program.

The Future Celts program offers multiple competitive tournament teams for boys and girls grades 5-8, with the goal of focusing on the values and philosophies of both of McNary’s varsity basketball teams. 

“We are looking to have this program better mirror our high school programs,” Kirch said. “It allows us to implement our program values of what we see as important so that, when kids get to McNary, they are prepared as possible for what they are going to see at the high school level.”

Future Celts came to fruition through multiple conversations by Kirch and Doran over the last year, who both wanted to take more ownership of youth basketball in Keizer. 

“We both really wanted to revitalize youth basketball in this area and make it about kids getting better and loving the game instead of being wrapped up in winning and losing,” Doran said. “We want to get back to just playing for fun and getting better and loving the game. We both have a passion for basketball and we both want to share that passion that has given us so much.” 

One of the differences between Future Celts and other youth programs is that the emphasis that will be put on individual improvement and player development, not on playing in as many games as possible. 

Future Celts teams will only be playing in six overall tournaments this winter (every other weekend). However, players will practice two times a week and are required to attend a mandatory weekly clinic, where kids will rotate through different fundamental stations and compete in different drills.

Kirch and Doran will be heavily involved at the weekly clinics, which will start in the first week of December. Guest speakers and outside trainers will also come to provide their expertise. 

“The focus on skill development is huge. But we also want to take more emphasis off of playing so many games and focus on getting better as a player and just having fun playing the game,” Kirch said. “People have this mindset that the more games you play, the better you get. But from a coaches’ standpoint, we couldn’t disagree more. The more time for individual instruction, the better you get.”

Both Kirch and Doran are hoping that these weekly clinics not only help players improve their skills, but also allow kids to develop friendships and camaraderie with the players that they will be playing with when they get to high school. 

“Having a good experience at the middle school basketball level and wanting to continue to play is a huge thing on the girls side,” Doran said. “So I think to have us involved in the middle school program and at the weekly clinics is crucial because they will be getting used to how we coach and what we expect, while also getting better as basketball players.”

Kirch added: “We want to create a culture of continuity in our programs.”

Part of that continuity is making sure that everyone is on the same page from a basketball strategy standpoint. Kids in the Future Celts program will be adapting to the offensive and defensive principals that are used by both McNary varsity teams.

“We want kids to learn our systems now, so that they are already equipped when they get to high school,” Kirch said. “To get to high school and not have a kid know how to jump to the ball defensively, I can’t even begin to tell you how far behind that puts us.”

Some of the goals of Future Celts are to develop basketball skills, promote teamwork and inspire dedication. But this program also hopes to inspire the importance of schooling and leadership.

“Academics, character development and leadership are incredibly important and instilling that at an early age is important,” Kirch said. “If you aren’t passing your classes in sixth grade, you aren’t going to play.”

Kirch and Doran will be individually be hiring and training coaches to teach those values to each individual team. 

“We don’t want parents to have a question about where kids are going. This is our youth program. If I am a parent and the head coach of the school that my kid will be going to says this is their youth program, then that is where I am putting my kid,” Kirch said. 

Tryouts begin Sunday, Oct. 13 at Whiteaker Middle School. 

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