Long-time youth basketball coach Keith Morgan to be recognized by Katz JCC

Morgan will receive the People’s Choice Award at the 2018 Katz JCC Sports Award Dinner on Sept. 17.

Keith Morgan knows how special the Katz JCC community is. After all, he’s been a part of it since he was growing up as a kid in Cherry Hill 50 years ago.

“I grew up in Woodcrest, so I went through Cherry Hill Public Schools,” Morgan said. “I spent many days in the old building. My dad used to play a lot of volleyball, so I was there.”

As an adult, Morgan became a huge part of the JCC’s Junior Maccabi Basketball Program and is now focusing his volunteer efforts on the JCC’s ACHaD Squadron special needs basketball program. Morgan’s years of volunteering are now being recognized as he has been selected as the 2018 People’s Choice Award winner at this year’s JCC Sports Award Dinner. The People’s Choice Award is given annually to a person who has made significant contributions to sports in the Jewish community.

Morgan’s volunteering began when the Katz JCC moved to its current facility on Springdale Road in 1997. There was more space to hold programs and classes in the new building, and Morgan said he and others decided to pour their efforts into youth basketball.

“When this building was new, I think Amanda, my oldest, was probably 5 or 6,” said Morgan, a father of two. “We decided we’re going to create a group, it was co-ed at the time, we decided to teach them some basketball.”

Morgan would go on to coach his daughters, Amanda and Rebecca, and dozens of other girls in the JCC’s Junior Maccabi Youth Basketball League for many years. Morgan also volunteered as a coach for Team South Jersey in the JCC Maccabi Games.

“I got so much pleasure out of watching and teaching and being with my kids and friends, it just kept going,” Morgan said about volunteering.

After Morgan’s kids grew up and went off to college a few years ago, he still wanted to stay involved as a coach. Morgan was introduced to the JCC’s ACHaD Squadron basketball program. ACHaD provides programs tailored to the special needs population. Morgan immediately fell in love with coaching in the program and continues to do so on Monday evenings.

“I’m learning stuff,” Morgan said. “I’m now not only teaching skills, but I see all of these amazing kids that want to learn and want to be taught. You have kids at all different levels of skills.”

“I look forward to my Monday nights,” Morgan added. “I know I’ll be out there trying to teach the kids to play.”

Morgan continues to volunteer with the JCC because he knows how special the community is. Morgan still recalls spending many days at the JCC as a kid. At age 53, Morgan said some things, such as the JCC’s location, have changed, but many of the faces haven’t.

“It definitely creates the ability for the community to act as the community because you always see people you know there,” Morgan said about the JCC.

During the last week of August, Morgan was on vacation in Colorado with his wife when he learned he was selected as the People’s Choice Award winner. Morgan said he was floored when he received the news.

“It lets me know that I’m having an impact on some people,” Morgan said.

“I don’t do this stuff thinking I’m going to get an award,” he added. “My kids are long out of it. It’s certainly not the motivation.”

Morgan said he is looking forward to hearing from the other award winners as well as keynote speakers Jason Kelce and Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles. But most of all, Morgan looks forward to seeing the many people he has touched in some way during his many years as a volunteer.

“I’m looking forward to having my whole family there,” he said. I’m looking forward to seeing all of the people I’ve been coaching with for so many years.”

The JCC Sports Award Dinner will take place on Monday, Sept. 17 at the JCC. The event begins at 5:45 p.m. and includes dinner, dessert and a sports memorabilia auction. General admissions tickets and patron ticket packages with reserved seating are also available. To purchase tickets, visit katzjcc.org/sportsaward.