Coach McNair honored in scholarship essay

The Corrine Costin Gibson Memorial Public Library in Port St. Joe awarded a $4,000 scholarship to Madelyn Gortemoller, a recent graduate from Port St. Joe High School, following an essay competition designed to honor educators in Port St. Joe.

Applicants were required to submit an essay describing the impact a teacher or coach had had on their life. They also had to maintain a 3.0 grade point average or higher during their time in school to be eligible.

The scholarship was endowed by the Gibson family following the death of Dr. Thomas Gibson, who was a prominent figure in Gulf County and contributed substantially to the building of the library. 

Gortemoller, who will be running track at the University of Mobile next year, wrote her essay on Port St. Joe High School’s Track and Field Coach Keion McNair.

Here is her winning essay.

How Keion McNair has impacted my life

By Madelyn Gortemoller

Coach Keion McNair was a graduate of Port St. Joe High School and has been involved with football, track and field, cross country, and basketball. He has won 10 state championships in track and field. His love for sports carried over to his coaching at Port St. Joe High School. He has coached basketball, track and field, and cross country for 20 years. Coach McNair has led his teams countless times to state in all three sports. I have had the opportunity to be a part of four of those times with cross country and track and field.

I have had the privilege of having him as a coach for five years for cross country and track and field. Coach McNair has taught me valuable life lessons that have influenced me to perform better on the track and in the classroom. He has taught me the power of patience. When I would get frustrated because I was not running the times I wanted, he would remind me to trust the process and be patient. At the end of the season, I would have an amazing breakthrough and end up running faster than I thought I could run! Before every race, he gives me a pep talk and always reminds me to just run and have fun. No matter if I came in first or last place, he was always proud. Coach always told me during my workouts, races and tests that it was all mental. He would remind me that I needed to believe and have confidence in myself. I became mentally stronger on and off the track as my confidence grew. I eventually was able to do the things I never dreamed of doing, like beat the school record on the 5k, one mile, qualify and place at state, and compete at the Junior Olympics. After undergoing spinal fusion at age 11, I was left with limitations, but Coach never let me focus on what I could not do. He just created positive ways to focus on what I could do!

Coach McNair feels strongly about not only setting goals on the track, but always setting positive goals in the classroom. Coach teaches us to take ride in ourselves and to be good students and members of our community before we can push ourselves on the track. Coach Keion will not turn anyone away who wants to learn and compete. He always sees potential and strives to enhance each athlete’s individual gifts to help them shine while he stands in the shadows. He has a passion to help many kids in our community to be good citizens and make good life choices and often gives of his own time to assist kids without any payment or recognition. He is one of the most humbled individuals, even though he is one of the most dedicated and knowledgeable coaches in the panhandle.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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