Special to the Record
Keenan Milburn may be one of the youngest members of the Calgary Crush but his basketball journey is not a story of limitations. It’s a tale of triumph.
The Crush is comprised of the best basketball players the City of Calgary has to offer and may boast the deepest bench in the American Basketball Association. A big part of this 14-man roster is a young man who would never take no for an answer and has transformed his game into a perfect portrait of a small town hero.
Royston, with a population of around 1,200, is where Keenan developed his passion for hoops. If it was battling his older brothers for bragging rights or soaking up knowledge from his father’s Sunday rec league, Keenan quickly developed his affection for the game. With a family hungry to share their love for the game Keenan could feel a passion and warmth for the sport well before he slipped on his first uniform.
Although Keenan did not receive many invitations to pursue basketball after high school he did not give up on his goal of playing professional basketball. His two older brothers Dawson and John never had the opportunity to play university basketball. Keenan’s passion and ambition to pursue his dreams would be fueled by the fallen dreams of his lifelong teammates. “My brother told me not to miss my opportunity and if you get the chance take it,” said Keenan.
Keenan would soon get his chance to show his skillfulness and intelligence for the game when he received an offer to attend SAIT. With the support of his entire family Keenan decide to seize his opportunity to prove he can succeed at the next level.
His parents, who never missed a game in high school, were now excited to travel to support their starting guard. Calgary may have been a new city but Keenan could sense his dream was within his grasp. He started every game in his rookie season at SAIT and was named rookie of the year.
Keenan understood the value of labour and constantly ask his coaches what he needed to do to succeed and accomplish his goals. “I would talk to my coach and ask him what I can do to get better and what I can do in the summer to improve my game,” stated Keenan. “They were amazed that whatever they said I would try to perfect.”
Keenan played his final two years at the University of Calgary before joining the Calgary Crush in 2012. “I put in a lot of hard work to get where I am today,” said Keenan. “I only had one window of opportunity every time I was stepping up.”
Keenan now has the opportunity to play professional basketball in the ABA and has become an integral part in the success of the Crush.
The greatest asset the Crush bring on a nightly basis is a strong and well-balanced attack. Keenan’s contribution off the bench has helped lead the Crush to a perfect 14-0 record and victory in the inaugural Canada vs. U.S. playoff series.
With a solid shooting touch and steady fundamentals you can tell he is a coach’s son. His mild manner attitude on and off the court is only a glimpse into the true competitiveness and composure that lives within this small-town kid unwilling to succumb to limitations.
His father Kent has been a big influence on Keenan’s dominance on the basketball court and has been coaching his son since he was old enough to crawl to the hoop.
He was not only Keenan’s coach in elementary and middle school but has been a guiding voice and mentor for Keenan throughout his basketball career. “I might give him a hard time but I will always listen to what he has to say and try to use his advice,” said Keenan. “I can’t thank him enough.”
Keenan has not only taken his father’s advice but is now following in his footsteps. Keenan has recently become an assistant coach at SAIT and has the opportunity to continue his father’s example and create hope for young players chasing a dream.
“I love being around a team and being around younger guys and watching them grow,” said Keenan. He now has a new stage and a new challenge to pursue as he helps mould and develop a growing basketball community in Calgary.
At the age of 23 Keenan’s basketball journey is far from over. He has dreams of playing professional basketball overseas and would relish the opportunity to prove himself one more time.
“I would love to play overseas,” stated the 6′,1″, 180-pound guard. “Even if it was just for one year I would love the chance.” For now Keenan will continue to prove his skills on the basketball court in Calgary and guide a Crush team into a new era of basketball. Keenan’s journey may have found a home in Calgary but the dreams of a small-town kid will live on as he finds his next challenge and begins to write his next chapter.
This story appeared on the official blog of the Calgary Crush. Visit calgarycrush.com.