“24.1 seconds” shone brightly across McBride Court. The Fords led their rivals, the Malvern Prep Friars, 77-71, as Sixth Former Chris Sims stepped up to the free throw line. It was the first game of the season for the Fords––a rather peculiar one due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent restrictions on play. In a game that is typically filled with rambunctious student sections and tons of school spirit, the gym was eerily empty. Only the occasional cheering of the supportive families of Sixth Form parents filled the gym.
Sims knocked down both free throws to seal the game for the Fords. The Fords’ sideline glistened with excitement. They had just taken down the reigning Inter-Ac champions 79-73 in a hard-fought battle.
Perhaps unnoticed amidst the unfamiliar situation, a surprising face led the team to their first victory. Head Coach Bernie Rogers was forced to miss the game due to COVID contact-tracing, resulting in longtime assistant Mr. Keith Czarny stepping in and leading the Fords to the start of their season.
“It was a lot of fun being the head coach for the Malvern game. I’ve been playing for or coaching with Coach Rogers for the past seventeen years, and we talk pretty much every day, especially during basketball season, so I have a pretty good grasp on how he coaches and what plays to run in different scenarios,” Mr. Czarny said.
Mr. Czarny has been learning the game of basketball for a while. He grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and played basketball throughout grade school and high school. In 2007, Mr. Czarny was a key contributor to the Archbishop Ryan basketball team, and was named an honorable mention of the All-Philadelphia Catholic League team, one of the best high school basketball leagues in the country.
“I was never the star player or anything when I played. I just always worked my hardest, and did the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet.”Mr. Keith Czarny
“I was never the star player or anything when I played. I just always worked my hardest, and did the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet,” Mr. Czarny said.
Mr. Czarny is also a devoted Philadelphia 76ers fan. Whether he is attending the game or watching from home, Mr. Czarny is as vocal about the Sixers as anyone else.
“I’m just not sure why we didn’t give up Ben Simmons for James Harden. Harden and Embiid are the two best players in the NBA,” Mr. Czarny said. “It would have been unstoppable.”
Beyond basketball, there is much more to Mr. Czarny’s life. At home, watching him win his first game as a head coach, was Mr. Czarny’s wife Ellen, and his two-year-old daughter, Penelope, or “Penny.”
“My family means the world to me. It was great being able to have the games livestreamed this year. My wife, who is pregnant, and my two-year-old daughter were able to watch the game on YouTube on our TV at our house,” Mr. Czarny said.
Mr. Czarny is excited to extend his family soon, as he already shares a special bond with Penny.
“I have a video of Penny on my phone from the game. She pointed to the screen and said, ‘That’s my daddy.’ It’s moments like that, that I’ll never forget,” Mr. Czarny said.
Along with a new addition coming with Ellen’s pregnancy, Mr. Czarny also turned a page in his professional life. This past summer, Mr. Czarny started his job at Haverford as the Associate Director of Marketing and Communications and the Social Media and Content Manager.
“I handle the school’s social media accounts. I set up and schedule any of the email blasts that go out to external constituents. And I also gather stories and pictures for the website and the Haverford School Today magazine,” Mr. Czarny said.
Despite being a part of the basketball program for the past six years, this is Mr. Czarny’s first full-time job with the school. Although it’s been a difficult year with the ongoing pandemic, Mr. Czarny has certainly enjoyed his experience so far.
“I think the MarComm department has done a terrific job of making me feel welcome in such a challenging and different school environment this year,” Mr. Czarny said.
One of the most challenging aspects of this year is getting to know the people around campus. Mr. Czarny’s schedule is limited, and it is hard for him to get a true sense of the campus in an unusual year. He remains eager, however, and hopes to continue to grow more comfortable here.
“I am excited for the opportunity when things open back up and go back to normal, and we can have lunch with different people in the dining hall,” Mr. Czarny said
“One of my favorite quotes is ‘To attack each day with enthusiasm,’ and I try to make sure I incorporate that into my lifestyle.”Mr. Keith Czarny
Mr. Czarny has mentored and served as a role model for many basketball players, and he hopes to create even more relationships outside of basketball.
Mr. Czarny approaches each day the same way, with enthusiasm.
“One of my favorite quotes is ‘To attack each day with enthusiasm,’” Mr. Czarny said, “and I try to make sure I incorporate that into my lifestyle.”