Keith Young’s path, ultimately, to a lifetime in education spent in service of others was never a straightforward, golden trail.
Yet, with benefit of hindsight, Young’s path never seemed in doubt.
After all, the Smyrna native and graduate of Smyrna High School initially had finished school and started working for his parents in their community sporting goods store.
Soon thereafter, Young recommitted to being involved in his community’s education and sports landscapes. He enrolled in college at MTSU, graduated as a Blue Raider and began almost immediately in a career that now has spanned decades.
Young, Stewarts Creek Middle School’s athletics director and a key TMSAA committee member, has been honored as one of the ten 2023-2024 TSSAA Distinguished Service Award winners.
Young’s impact has been measured on some of the Midstate’s greatest athletic standouts, from football stars Eric Locke and Brent Stockstill, to myriad other athletes in a variety of sports; Young has coached multiple sports and at both the middle and high school levels in his native Rutherford County.
Decades in, Young keeps coming back because of his belief in sports as vehicle for growth and success in life for young people.
“I’ve just seen it affect so many students’ lives and seen students growth and I’m not sure they could have grown any other way if they had not had that athletic experience to fall back on,” Young said. “Even when I was working at the sporting goods store, coaching at the rec-league level, students need some kind of avenue to be able to be involved and sometimes just to have people to show them that they care about them.
“That’s what I’ve seen for my students over the years. I’m not a big social media person, but a lot of my former students are and I do have a Facebook account and they do ask me to be their friends on there and I get to catch up a little bit like that with them.”
That’s a lot of catching up for a man who’s poured more than three decades of his adult life into education and athletics in his home.
In between seeing his former students out perhaps officiating a local high school game or even on the collegiate level, Young has served as Stewarts Creek’s athletics director for a dozen years. He’s embraced the chance to broaden athletics horizons for a younger generation, as the TMSAA has continued to grow in its touch throughout the Volunteer State, and to also work hand-in-hand with the organization.
“Richard McWhirter (TSSAA Assistant Executive Director) came to school one day, and we were chit-chatting about starting the TMSAA and that the TMSAA was starting a middle school state tournament and he asked if I’d be willing to jump in on a committee,” said Young, who praised his wife Kim and sons Cy, Eli and Wyatt, as well as his colleagues, for their support. “I started in an administrative role that way. I just wanted to make sure I had the opportunity to still be involved in student-athletes' lives. Because that’s what got me there to begin with. That’s the absolute best thing about teaching and coaching is to see those kids along the way and catch up with them.
“Just to be able to work with some of the kids and adults here, assistant athletic director helps me tremendously and she keeps me on my toes, keeps me fresh, to remind me to send out correspondence. Couldn’t do what I do without her.
TSSAA proudly salutes Keith Young for his many years and contributions to student-athletes as an administrator.