Ferndale High girls basketball under new leadership

By: Mark Vest | Woodward Talk | Published July 9, 2019

 Keith Paris has been selected to lead Ferndale High’s girls basketball program.

Keith Paris has been selected to lead Ferndale High’s girls basketball program.

Photo provided by Keith Paris

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FERNDALE — At various points in his life, Ferndale High girls basketball coach Keith Paris has had the potential for a promising future in athletics.

After graduating from Finney High School in Detroit (now known as East English Village Preparatory Academy) in 2006, Paris was set to take advantage of a scholarship he earned to play NCAA Division I baseball for Oakland University. He also earned a spot on Oakland’s men’s basketball team as a walk-on.

But before Paris had a chance to do either, he injured his knee playing pickup basketball.

The scholarship was gone, and he didn’t play a single game for Oakland’s baseball or basketball teams.

Later on, Paris opted to attend Macomb Community College and pursue an associate degree in fire science. He also earned a spot on Macomb’s men’s basketball team, and in the last game of the season, he injured his knee again.

Despite those injuries, Paris was informed of a possibility that might exist to play in Germany.

“I was pursuing that,” he said. “I was training, and I was getting ready for that. That’s when the (Detroit) Fire Department had called, and it was just a decision — take this sure thing with the Fire Department or pursue this thing over in Germany.”

Paris opted for the “sure thing.”

After serving as an assistant on Ferndale’s girls basketball team last season, Paris’ journey has led to his first high school head coaching job, which is a position he was selected for after the Eagles’ season ended.

Despite what could have been as a basketball and/or baseball player, Paris said, “I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

“I feel like this is the path that I’m supposed to be on: coaching, giving back as much as I can to kids that wouldn’t have the opportunity to play,” Paris said. “I’ve already gotten a couple kids scholarships to play in college that had no idea that they could even play at that level. I’ve gotten more joy out of helping kids get there than I ever did playing basketball or baseball.”

As for the opportunity that is now before him with Ferndale, Paris discussed what he considers to be the most appealing aspect of the position.

“The ability to start from scratch and implement my own ideas,” he said. “Be able to put my stamp on something that really doesn’t have any foundation to start with. … (It’d be) special if I’m the one to raise it to the level that it needs to be at.”

A shorter-term goal that Paris has for the Eagles is to win a district championship, before eventually helping bring the program a state title.

“The keys are probably finding kids at the school that (want to) play,” Paris said. “If we can find kids that really are dedicated to working hard, being in the gym and getting better, (the) sky’s the limit.”

Paris’ journey since graduating from Finney hasn’t exactly been a predictable one, and the chance he has to lead a program isn’t one he seems to have taken for granted.

“Those opportunities are hard to come by, and they fill fast,” Paris said. “It was (an) honor and a privilege to get the opportunity to coach here at Ferndale.”

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