BOTHELL — The home field for Northshore School District high schools has been named for a local pioneer’s son and football legend for 64 years.
Family of Harold “Pop” Keeney are now concerned that legacy could be diminished under a proposal to rename Pop Keeney Stadium.
A school district committee will consider a proposal from Bothell High School class of 1964 alumni Parl Guthrie and Jim Morrison to rename the facility Pop Keeney Memorial Stadium. The men are veterans and would like to honor local graduates who have died in military service.
Guthrie first made the proposal last year. In an opinion piece in The Herald, Guthrie said the name change could be accompanied by a physical memorial.
The stadium currently includes a Wall of Honor, recognizing notable alumni and staff.
“The Northshore School District has never honored any of the students who went through our school district and lost their lives fighting for our country,” Guthrie said. “If you look around you will see that time after time the only way to properly honor the fallen students is to dedicate the school district stadium to their name.”
Local home fields honoring veterans include the Everett School District’s Everett Memorial Stadium, the Snohomish School District’s Veterans Memorial Stadium and Oak Harbor High School’s Wildcat Memorial Stadium. Seattle and Renton also have Memorial Stadiums.
None of them include a person’s name, however.
Family members worry the proposed switch would only sow confusion.
“Pop was never a veteran,” said Al Haynes, Keeney’s grandson and a former Bothell High School principal.
“We do support a veterans monument,” added Carol Haynes, his wife. “We just don’t think it’s an appropriate name for the stadium.”
There’s a larger concern as well.
“It opens it up to be named anything,” Carol Haynes said. “It might not include ‘Pop,’ or ‘Memorial,’ in it — it could be ‘Joe Blow.’”
The man and the place
Harold “Pop” Keeney was the son of one of Bothell’s founding families.
He graduated in 1920 from what was then called Bothell School. A year later, he was recruited to be the high school program’s first football coach.
Keeney led the team to the state finals in 1923, and over the years became known for his trick plays. He left in 1925 to earn his college degrees, then returned to Bothell for two more coaching stints, including his heyday years of 1931-34, and his final season coaching in 1945-46.
His nickname came from his status as a young father.
Keeney died in 1962.
The facility named for him has undergone several changes since its start as a mud-prone patch of land that used to be an orchard.
The field was named for Keeney in 1953 when Bothell High School opened. Inglemoor (built in 1964) and Woodinville (1983) also called Pop Keeney Field their home turf. The new North Creek High School also will play home games there.
In 1968, the field’s open-air bleachers were replaced with covered stands. A second major renovation was completed in 2010, by which time the facility was known as Pop Keeney Stadium. That also was the year the Wall of Honor was added.
The stadium, located in downtown Bothell, also hosts other sporting and civic events. It’s next door to the new McMenamins complex. The history-loving restaurant and brewery chain renovated the old Anderson School and surrounding buildings. McMenamins historians included Keeney in their displayed artifacts.
People who live in the school district can apply to serve on the committee tasked with considering the name change proposal. The deadline to apply is May 4.
The group will meet once in late May, and again several times in the fall to develop recommendations. Gathering public input will be part of the work.
Al Haynes plans to be among those applying for a seat.
More information is at www.nsd.org/renaming. Applications also are available from the school district at 3330 Monte Villa Parkway.
Melissa Slager: firstname.lastname@example.org, 425-339-3432.