By PEDRO VELAZCO Kokomo Tribune
---- — Former Purdue basketball coach Gene Keady and Herschel Gulley go way back. To trace their link, you have to move back a full generation.
“The reason we know Keady is that my father in law [Pat Malaska] was co-captain of the ‘37-38 team at Purdue,” said Gulley, the special project chairman for the South Miami County Kiwanis Club. “And he’d go back every year when they had their banquets.”
So through that link, Gulley came to know Keady. After many years, and after the coach stepped down after 25 seasons with Purdue, Gulley and Keady came together for a good cause.
“Becasue of [Malaska] we knew the coach pretty well and I talked to him about leaving a legacy with him and his wife,” Gulley said.
Keady’s wife Pat died in 2009.
“[We] started it because of my wife, and when she passed away Herschel wanted to do something in her name, and they use the money for scholarships to send kids away to college,” Keady said.
Gulley recalled that shortly after Pat’s death he called Keady and they had lunch. That started them down the path to a fund-raising golf tournament.
“I said how about going ahead with that legacy and he said ‘I’d like to do it for Pat.’ So we called it the Pat Keady Memorial. Today we call it the Keady Legacy.”
The Coach Keady Legacy Golf Tournament is scheduled for next Thursday, July 11, at Rock Hollow G.C. in Peru.
“it’s a lot of work,” Keady said of organizing the tourney. “Herschel wanted to do it. I thought it’s for a great cause but the hours, I didn’t have time to do it, and so he picked up the ball and ran with it.”
For the first time this year, following the golf, the Honeywell Center in Wabash will host Keady in a talk and question-and-answer session at 7:30 p.m. Also, the following morning the Charley Creek Inn of Wabash will host a breakfast with Keady at 9 a.m. July 12. The events are sponsored by the South Miami County Kiwanis Club.
“I’ll be talking about basketball in general, motivational stuff,” Keady said of his Honeywell date. “I don’t have the secrets, but I can tell them what it takes to be successful and to win. And then I enjoy the questions.
“Herschel just came up with the bright idea [for the Honeywell talk]. I think [Bob] Knight had been there, and the great player for Cincinnati [Pete] Rose, so they were going to try and see what happened.”
Gulley said he’s hoping to draw about 1,500 people to the Honeywell Center talk. He said Keady works well with large audiences or small. He related a story of how Keady paid a surprise visit to a nursing home to spice up the day of the residents.
“A year ago, he was the chairman for the Senior Games, they were held over at Purdue, and people came in from I guess all over the U.S.,” Gulley said. “He’ll do things like that that nobody will hear about where he’ll stop by a nursing home and go in at noontime on his way traveling. It’s been tremendous having his personality and enthusiasm.”
Money raised from the golf outing goes to award college scholarships. Funds from the Honeywell Center talk and the Charley Creek breakfast will go to basketball camp scholarships for local athletes through their local Kiwanis clubs.
Keady is retired as a head coach, but not as a coach. Keady now works as a special assistant/advisor at St. John’s, helping one of his former assistants, Red Storm head coach Steve Lavin.
“He’s like a son,” Keady said of Lavin. “We have a lot of fun, work hard. We’ve got players now, so we think we ought to be good this year. It’s going to be interesting and I’m looking forward to it.”
But before basketball season, there’s another stop in the state he once called home for his dates in Peru and Wabash.
“I’m just looking forward to seeing everybody, hope we have a great turnout and can’t wait to get started,” Keady said.