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THE JEFFERSON AWARDS: Our November winner coaches youth basketball

Every month, FOX47 features someone in our community who is making a difference, and we honor them with a Jefferson Award. 

Our November winner leads a youth basketball program, helping young girls improve their skills and build character.

Teaching lessons on the court–and off. 

That’s where you’ll often find Keith Bland, coaching members of the Rochester Shock, a basketball program to girls in 5th-11th grades. 

He helped start the program ten years ago. 

"First, my daughter was involved and they needed some off school ball to make them a little better players," Keith said. 

But even now that his daughter is out of school, he continues on, spending his time teaching the girls about the value of hard work. 

"We go to the cities and we challenge bigger clubs and they have a fearless attitude when they go up there," he said. "It’s a lot of, a lot of people choose to go there but we aren’t into, we don’t beat them join them, we just think of, the opposite, we think don’t join them, beat them."

"I really like how Keith runs it like a fun practice and not like all tight like you’re all like I can’t make a mistake," said Rylie Schnell, a player on the team. "But you just let loose and have fun while you’re furthering your skills."

When he’s done coaching, he heads into his job at Hy-Vee, where he works overnight shifts. 

In fact, a co-worker nominated him for the Jefferson Award. 

"Public service and giving back to our community is really a huge part of being a Hy-Vee employee, but Keith really goes above and beyond for what it means to be involved in community service and that’s why we nominated him for the award," explained Sarah Thacker, Marketing Coordinator for Hy-Vee. 

"I love to do it because I can remember when I was young and people came and did things for me," said Keith. 

But Keith says the most rewarding part of it all is seeing the girls improve. 

"It’s really great to see the girls process and get better from the time they start in March by the time fall ball comes," he said. "Hard work will pay off."

Hy-Vee had a special celebration Wednesday morning for Keith, honoring him and his hard work and commitment to the community.     

If you know someone who’s also making a difference, you can nominate them for a Jefferson Award here.


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