Hall Of Fame Kentucky Wildcats Baseball Coach, Who Got Started in Lake Wales, Speaking at 1st Baptist Church this Sunday
by James Coulter
Coach Keith Madison started his athletic coaching career as a rookie coach at Lake Wales High School. He would eventually go on to become a head coach at a big Southeastern Conference school and earn a place in the Kentucky Wildcats Hall of Fame.
“Little did I know I would become a coach at a big Southeastern conference and enjoy coaching at that level,” he said. “Now it is nostalgic for me to come back and share those memories and those highlights of my career with the people who helped me get started.”
Coach Madison will be sharing the highlights of his career during an upcoming speech at First Baptist Church of Lake Wales at 10:30 am on Sunday. He will be addressing the LW Highlanders Football team, who achieved the honor of winning the state championships.
Growing up in Kentucky, Coach Madison was drafted to play baseball out of high school in 1969. He played in both the Montreal Expos and Cincinnati Reds organizations making it to the Triple-A level. However, several injuries, including a torn ACL, proved serious stumbling blocks that forced him to end his career as a player.
Thanks to a cousin in the Polk County School System, he was able to o rain a teaching and coaching position at Lake Wales High School. He started as an assistant baseball and basketball coach, then became the head baseball coach in his second year.
Eventually, he had the opportunity to earn his master’s degree at Mississippi State University, where he worked as an assistant coach. He even had the honor and privilege of working under legendary baseball coach, Ron Polk.
Later, he applied to become a coach at the University of Kentucky. He did not assume they would hire a 26-year-old like himself, and yet he served 25 years there until his retirement at age 51.
He spent several years attending mission trips through SCORE International, traveling to the Dominic Republic for humanitarian work. The COVID-19 pandemic halted his trips, and he decided to restructure his ministry to speaking and mentoring coaches. He will be hosting one such speaking gig at First Baptist Church in Lake Wales on Sunday.
The main takeaway he wants young people to take away from his life story and career is the importance of relationships. While modern athletics hyperfixates on individual success, Coach Madison attests that he could not have reached the highlights of his career without the help of other people.
“It sounds like a cliché, but it is so true,” he said. “I have surrounded myself with the right people and coaches and it made all the difference…No matter what career we are in…no matter what, the career itself is important, but even more important are the relationships you build throughout the career. I have come full circle. I started my coaching career in Lake Wales. So here it is all these years later.”
Coach Keith Madison will be speaking on Sun. Mar. 26 at 10:30 a.m. at Lake Wales First Baptist Church, located at 338 E Central Avenue.