Apr 5 2016

Hello from the History Department.

If you've been to the Anderson School, you undoubtedly noticed the massive and impressive Pop Keeney Stadium, set behind our property. It is host to high school football games, community events and more.

So just who was Pop Keeney? Well, he was "the finest and smartest high school coach in the state," that's who.

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Born to a pioneer Washington lumber family, Harold "Pop" Keeney would in turn, become a pioneer in his own right. With a coaching career spanning nearly thirty years, Keeney (and the Keeney name) became synonymous with Bothell and Northshore regional sports. Once heralded "as the finest and smartest high school coach in the state," Pop had more trick plays up his sleeve than a big top circus magician. His mastery of game tactics won him a devoted following from fans and team members alike, and it was his boundless energy and love for the game that helped him take his teams to numerous titles. His namesake, Pop Keeney Stadium, rising just behind Anderson School, is a lasting tribute to this most special and resourceful man.

Graduating from Bothell High in 1919, Keeney was soon recruited by his alma mater, becoming the head coach for all three of the school's athletic teams. During his early twenties, young Harold held down three jobs: the school coach and bus driver, in addition to being a delivery driver for a local firm in town. And like every young man in a hurry, Keeney married his high school sweetheart and quickly started a family. At the ripe old age of 24, Keeney became the father of three (subsequently earning him the nickname Pop). In three short years Keeney would take the BHS basketball team all the way to the state finals. Sadly, they were defeated, finishing the game with the lowest score ever recorded in the state basketball tournament's history. Pop was undeterred by this loss, however, and would soon prove his mettle as a great coach.

In 1926 the Keeney family left the Bothell area to move to Bellingham where Harold attended the State Normal School, and would serve as assistant coach for two years before becoming the head coach for Anacortes High. His years away from Bothell would prove to be vital for acquiring the skills he needed to become a successful high school coach. Upon his return to the head coaching position in Bothell in 1931, Pop Keeney's football teams won the Northwest Washington championship twice, in addition to three county championships, as well as winning the Snoqualmie Valley championship twice. It is important to note that during his heyday in the 1930s, Pop was never defeated by more than a single touchdown.

Pop Keeney's coaching style and his fairness as a leader won him many accolades and much admiration from his players. Fred Klein (a former Bothell student and football player, 1930-34) affectionately described Keeney as "a fiery leader who was an extremely enthusiastic coach."

In addition to Pop's zeal, the legendary coach loved to have his fun with opposing teams; the art of the trick play earned him the reputation as a wizard mentor. Allen Haynes (Keeney's grandson) recalls one such play: "Quarterback comes up, instead of getting behind the center, he gets up behind the guard and says ‘Oops!' And so, everybody relaxes on the defensive team, and the center snaps it back to the fullback, and he takes off around the end." This playfulness and psychology always set Pop apart from the rest.

The Great Depression of the 1930s forced Keeney to take work wherever he could find it. He once again had to pick up his family and move away, doing stints coaching Western Washington State College, Kennewick, Longview and Sumner. It was not until after ten long years of coaching his way around Washington that he was able to return to his first love of Bothell High and finish his career as the Cougar Field General.

Pop's colorful career ended in 1947, a near thirty-year run as one of the region's brightest stars of high school coaching. During the late 1940s Keeney's health sadly declined. He still found time, though, to teach his grandson checkers and to tutor him in math. And importantly, he lived long enough to see his home field at Bothell renamed in his honor in October 1952.

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