A Family Legacy in the ACCC
In the fall of 1972, Larry Keenum enrolled in Calhoun Community College as a first generation college student. Keenum was an outstanding three-sport athlete in a small rural 2A high school, West Morgan High School, in Trinity, Alabama. Keenum's Valedictorian status and his athletic prowess earned him a civic organization scholarship to attend Calhoun Community College and play baseball. After a mediocre freshman season with limited playing time, Keenum's family world unraveled as he spent his summer assisting in the care of his terminally ill father. The Calhoun baseball coach, Fred Frickie, visited Keenum's father in the hospital. Coach Frickie said to Keenum's parents, "I regret that I cannot help you, but I will promise you I will make sure your son has the opportunity to earn a college degree." With Frickie's coaching expertise, Keenum developed into a .463 hitter and was selected as an NJCAA All- American. Keenum's success at Calhoun was not limited to baseball, he also received several of the college's top academic honors. Keenum received a baseball scholarship to the University of Alabama where he was selected as All-SEC. Today, Keenum is a 30-year administrative veteran at Athens State University, the upper-level institution of the Alabama College System and is a member of the ACCC Hall of Fame.
Larry Keenum's influence in the Alabama Community College Conference may be indirectly responsible for 45 paternal relatives over the past 41 years to attend Calhoun Community College. Three years following Keenum's Calhoun graduation, his sister, Nancy, earned an athletic scholarship to Calhoun. This year marks her 31st year to teach and coach at Calhoun Community College. Keenum's daughters, Laura Leigh and Lacey, attended Calhoun as athletes and both proved to be outstanding students as they were selected to the college's prestigious "Top 10" students in 2006 and 2007. Keenum's wife attended Calhoun in the late 1980's to update a teacher's certificate and his son-in-law earned an Associate's degree in 2008. Ten of the 43 relatives have been a part of the college's athletic department as players, managers, and cheerleaders. The daughters, siblings, aunts, and cousins ages range from 16 year old dual enrolled students to currently enrolled 81 year old aunt. Keenum's Mother and two of his aunts have attended Calhoun on the senior adult tuition waiver program. Larry's 82 year old Mother continues to serve as a seasonal employee at the college bookstore every semester. Today, these relatives are successful members of communities as pharmacists, public school teachers, ministers, marketing specialists, business owners, stay at home Mom's, hair stylist, etc. These middle class families represent a large percentage of people as they vote and pay taxes in North Alabama and Southern Tennessee.
In 2011, Larry re-enrolled at Calhoun as a non-traditional student in the HVAC evening program to investigate a skill for a potential career after retirement. Keenum says, "When I was 18 years old, Calhoun provided for my educational needs. Thirty-nine years later as I will be seeking a different career path, Calhoun Community College is still meeting my needs. Situations change, people change, but a strong educational foundation continues to provide opportunities for the future. If you overstay your welcome at one career, you can learn new skills and move on. I have had two career changes already, and am preparing for another one for the later stages of my life. You don't get too old to learn, but the time comes when you do need thicker glasses. I am glad Calhoun Community College is here for me.
Yes, one positive experience of an athlete and a concerned coach does produce immeasurable affirmations for 40 years. The Keenum's initial introduction to the community college was via athletics. Today, the Keenum family legacy remains vibrant in the Alabama College System and the Alabama Community College Conference with current students and loyal, productive employees because of the athletic opportunities in the Alabama Community College system.