Sharyland Rattlers head boys basketball coach David Keith is no stranger to challenges. Whether in the classroom or on the court, Keith faces the kind of challenges teachers and coaches everywhere have grown accustomed to facing on a daily basis.
Recently, however, Keith has had to face a challenge unlike any he’s faced before. The kind of challenge he cannot draw on his years of on-the-job experience to get through. The kind of challenge he has turned to his faith, his family, his friends and his doctors to help him through. It’s the challenge of cancer.
“I’ve gone to five doctors here and I have a couple of diagnoses,” said Keith. “I’ll be going to M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston this week to see what they have to say there. It’s a tumor and it’s something else that I don’t even know how to explain.”
“The tumor is in my pituitary gland,” explained Keith. “From what I understand that’s pretty common but the other one is in the back of my head.”
Keith left for M.D. Anderson Monday evening for further testing and possible treatments starting Tuesday. As a man who has always put his faith above all else, Keith is leaning on his beliefs more than ever.
“First I’m a Christian, then husband, father, teacher and finally coach,” said Keith. “I describe myself in that order – first and foremost as a Christian.”
As a teacher and a coach, Keith has touched the lives of many young people over the years. As a 2012 graduate of Sharyland High and as one of Keith’s former players, Quino Pistokache shared what having him as his coach meant to him.
“I’ve learned a lot from Coach Keith,” Pistokache said. “He’s a great man and he instilled a confidence in me that not only helped me lead the team but has helped me in life. I’m so grateful to him because that’s contributed to the kind of person I am.”
In Keith’s absence, his first assistant coach Rene Gonzalez has assumed the position of interim head basketball coach for the Rattlers. Having coached under Keith for seven years, Gonzalez has come to admire his leadership abilities on and off the court.
“Coach Keith is my mentor and an awesome man,” said Gonzalez. “I’ve learned a lot from him and he means a lot to this team. He’s our leader, he’s our head coach and we look up to him.”
Having received the news of Keith’s diagnosis the week prior, Gonzalez explained how, like Keith, he and his players have turned to prayer and to their faith during this time of uncertainty.
“Last week was a tough week for us, but I know that God is good and that He’s going to do what’s best for this team,” said Gonzalez. “We’ve been praying for Coach Keith and his health every day.”