Practice is running about 10 minutes late on a Friday night for the Rochester High School boys basketball team. Head coach Mark Goldrick continues to direct traffic while his players scrimmage, offering up bits of valuable advice here and there to each player as they rush up and down the court.
“Ever since game five I realized I better start savoring these moments,” Mark said. “I really want to slow it down a little bit. This isn’t going to happen next year.”
Mark has been the head coach at Rochester the past eight seasons, the last four coaching his son, Keegan, the team’s leading scorer and do-it-all player.
“It’s just going by too fast,” Mark said. “We’re already half way through (the season). It’s been a really neat experience getting the opportunity to coach him for four years. He’s just always been around the program. Even before I was the coach, we’d be up there in the stands watching as fans. I think we started going to games here right when he was out of diapers.”
There haven’t been too many four-year varsity lettermen in the history of the Rochester boys basketball program. Keegan is one of the few players to accomplish the rare feat. At the end of this season, the senior will have played in approximately 80 games for the Warriors during his high school career.
Throw in an additional 100 or so games as a ball boy or spectator, and you’d probably be hard pressed to find someone who has had more involvement with Rochester basketball than Keegan.
“It seems like I’ve just been around the program forever,” Keegan said. “It’s been super long. This has been such a big part of my life.”
Keegan fondly remembers all the bus rides he’d go on with his dad’s teams during his pre-high school days. At first he would sit by Mark’s side, but eventually he gained the courage over the years and gradually made his way toward the back of the bus to sit with the players.
Despite his younger status, it wasn’t long before he was viewed as one of them.
In his middle school years, whenever the team was shorthanded during a practice and Keegan was present, he’d get thrown into a scrimmage trying to defend players much bigger and older than him.
He caught a few elbows for sure, but as the son of a coach, he knew this was part of the game and never said a word and simply continued to play.
When Keegan finally did arrive at Rochester as a freshman, he had basically already paid his dues with the varsity players.
“He always had the mentality that he wasn’t coming into the program (as a freshman). He had already been a part of it for so long,” Mark said. “He was part of the program not because he was the coach’s kid, but because of how much time and commitment he put into it. He’s made strides every year he’s been here. He came right in as a freshman because he had the ability and he’s been a four-year starter for us.”
Keegan, a 6-foot-3 guard, was an honorable mention all-2A Evergreen Conference pick as a sophomore and a second-team selection last year as junior. Much more has been asked of him during his final season.
“We have the makings to have a decent year,” Mark said. “We’re asking him to do a lot of things for us. Anything that we’re successful at, he has to have a hand in it.”
After a difficult start to the season, the Warriors picked up their first win of the year during a 50-48 victory over Tenino in a game where Keegan scored a season-high 27 points. He later added 13 points in Rochester’s 47-39 win at Orting and a team-high 18 points in a loss to W.F. West.
Keegan, who scored a career-high 29 points in a win over Eatonville last year, leads the team in scoring at nearly 13 points a contest for a second consecutive year, and has more than settled into his role as team leader.
“My freshman year, I was kind of quiet and was still learning,” Keegan said. “My sophomore year, I got a little more vocal. Now being here for so long it makes me feel like I’m a leader know. I’m the one that’s telling everyone what we should be doing in games and I’m the one who needs to bring everyone together. When I was younger everybody would help me out. I always remember that and now I want to give that to other people.”