She loves paddle tennis with a fierce passion, but her first love is swimming.
Before this year, she had never tasted coffee, but her 5am Midtown shift-starts made it a necessity.
And you’ll never see her without pearls.
Keegan Brown is the club’s Swim Lesson Coordinator and a Swimming Instructor, a competitive paddle tennis player, and a big-time Zumba enthusiast. She credits Midtown’s Zumba classes for her 30-pound weight loss.
A few weeks ago, I sat down with Keegan and we talked paddle, swimming, and why she has exactly three colored Sharpie markers in her possession at all times.
“Growing up in West Irondequoit, my sports-oriented parents taught both my sister and me that girls could do anything that boys could do,” says Keegan. So she played volleyball, kickball, and of course, she swam. Mike Cahill, the Head Swimming Coach at RIT, was Keegan’s swimming coach for over 15 years.
After graduating first from MCC and then from St. John Fisher, she worked in the non-profit industry for a few years, but then returned to her sporting roots when she started working for the club in 2009.
Midtown allows her to both fulfill her professional goals and her personal ones.
As a paddle tennis player for the past four years (three years competitively), Keegan participates in five paddle leagues during the season, and plays in tournaments across the Northeast once or twice a month. She comes from a paddle family (both her mom and her aunts play as well), and Keegan plays against her mom each Wednesday.
As a board member of SIS (Sustain, Inspire, Survive), an organization offering financial assistance to those battling breast cancer, Keegan hopes the 5th Annual Ladies Paddle Tournament for which Midtown is donating its courts next January will climb from 122 players in 2011 to 130 in 2012 to make it the biggest paddle tournament in the country.
On Deck and in the Pool
Paddle is a fall and winter sport, so when not on the courts, you’ll find Keegan on the pool deck coordinating group swimming lessons or in the pool teaching both young and not-so-young Midtowners to love the water. Keegan says, “I love watching the kids I taught to kick and breathe under water at two- and three-years-old now swimming laps at five- and -six-years-old. It’s incredibly fulfilling.”
She speaks fondly of her proudest moment at Midtown. A senior member of the club, Walter Fendley, approached Keegan about taking swimming lessons. He had not learned to swim as a child, and as a senior, was still intimidated by the deep end of the pool. His wife, an avid lap swimmer, encouraged Walter to take lessons so he could exercise with her. Walter started private lessons with Keegan in the shallow end of the pool, and eventually progressed to deeper water. Walter is now swimming laps with his wife, and the couple formed a lasting friendship with Keegan.
“All three of us took TNT together last year!” says Keegan.
Pearls and the Purse
When she’s not in the pool or on the paddle courts, Keegan enjoys baking and decorating cakes for her friends. She participated in the Sprint Mini-Triathlon at the club this past May, and loves taking group exercise classes with her friends.
She also told me that in addition to sunscreen, her handbag is never missing her daily planner and three colored Sharpie markers. “I have to stay organized and the markers help me plan my schedule,” says Keegan. “I’m absolutely lost without them.” And speaking of never being without, you’ll be hard-pressed to find Keegan sans pearls. “My sister and I are Irish twins-we’re 14 months apart. My sister wears diamonds, and I wear pearls,” she says. “They’ve been our signature accessory for years.”
A team player both on and off the paddle courts, Keegan firmly believes that as a Midtown associate, she would never ask anyone to do something that she herself wouldn’t do. She credits club manager Bob McKernan for demonstrating this ideal with the way he conducts himself in the club, pitching in to help whenever and wherever he’s needed.
“I truly believe in working hard in order to succeed,” says Keegan, “and sometimes that means working outside your job description.”
Keegan’s hard work on the paddle courts are taking her and her paddle partner to the APTA (American Platform Tennis Association) Nationals on Long Island for the first time this coming March.
Are the pearls coming too?
“Absolutely,” says Keegan.
Next up on our Staff Profile docket: Mind/Body Director Randi Lattimore. Stay tuned!
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