Traverse City Record-Eagle

Basketball

June 8, 2010

Haske switches to St. Francis

Haske leaves Charlevoix to take over St. Francis program

TRAVERSE CITY — On the same day the Keith Haske era ended in Charlevoix, another one began at Traverse City St. Francis.

Haske resigned as middle school principal and boys basketball coach at Charlevoix on Monday morning. Later that day, he was officially introduced as the new high school assistant principal and basketball coach at St. Francis.

"It was one of those bittersweet days because I had a tremendous experience in Charlevoix," Haske said. "I had two really hard things I had to do today. I had to tell my teaching staff that I was leaving next year. And I had to meet with my team that was coming back (which was) very hard to do. But you kind of come to the sweet part of a new experience and new kids. I'm excited to be a part of Gladiator athletics. I was really ready to do something different professionally, and I think this is going to be an awesome fit."

Haske comes to St. Francis with 26 years of coaching experience at two schools. He spent 13 years at St. Johns and another 13 at Charlevoix.

St. Francis has struggled with consistency in the basketball program. That included former coach Dave Ginsberg, who left the Gladiators after two seasons with a 37-7 record.

"We talk about three things. Character, commitment and compassion," St. Francis athletic director Tom Hardy said. "Keith's character is unmatched. His commitment is shown with the places he's been. And his compassion will allow him to be here. I want him to lead our kids as he can be here."

Hardy said he spoke with a number of people about the coaching vacancy when Ginsberg left.

"A key component was having someone in our building and someone that fits the mission of our school," Hardy said. "You couldn't ask for any more than what we have right here. Keith is very involved in the Catholic Church. For him to bring his mission here to our school, we couldn't ask for anything more."

The same day Haske let his Charlevoix players know he wasn't coming back, he was at the gym at St. Francis working with his new team.

"It was almost unreal that it happened," Haske said. "The hard part is you can't stop the march of time. It's summer basketball time. I felt pretty good. I set the summer up for the guys in Charlevoix and they're going to run through what they would do anyways. I just felt it was my duty to get down here and get these guys indoctrinated with what we want to do."

Haske was familiar with the St. Francis program after coaching against the Gladiators in the Lake Michigan Conference.

"I see some guys that really want to compete," he said. "One advantage they have here is they usually have some guys that played in the dome or Ford Field. To have a group of kids that think they can win a state championship, that's a huge plus. One of the great things about here is those kids know they can and they've seen other guys do it. I can't tell you how valuable that is."

Likewise, Hardy was all too familiar with Haske and his program.

"In sports in general, there's a love, hate relationship with the opposing coach," Hardy said. "You love somebody you respect because you admire the program they built. But you hate them because you envy what they have. I'm thrilled to get rid of that hate.

"Our kids are lucky to have someone like him."

As the summer basketball program begins, the players in the St. Francis system will have to adjust to Haske's more up-tempo coaching style.

"The big thing for them is going to be the culture shift of how we play," Haske said. "It's going to be a lot faster and a lot different. There's going to be a big curve."

Haske leaves a Charlevoix program where he won a number of Lake Michigan titles, six regionals and made the Class C state championship game twice in 2001 and 2004.

"Early response is people have been very supportive," Haske said of leaving Charlevoix. "I think people appreciate what we've done over the years and know that chance is inevitable at some point. I feel like I've mentored a lot of guys that are ready to step up and take over the program. I think the kids aren't going to get short-changed."

It will, however make things even more interesting when the Gladiators and Rayders meet this winter.

"It's been the healthiest rivalry in our league," Haske said. "It seems like we race to the top. It's something you always look forward to playing them twice, and many years we played them the third time. Normally there's big crowds and a playoff atmosphere. I'm guessing that's not going to change this year."

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