What would you do if your two favorite teams were matched up for some friendly competition? This past fall Brad Keithley had to make just such a tough call—root for his alma mater, University of Virginia, or his adopted hometown team, the UAA Seawolves, when the two women’s basketball teams went head-to-head in an exhibition game on the U.Va. court in Charlottesville. The solution? Get creative. He had a hat specially made in Seawolf green with a proud “V” emblazoned on the front to show his dual loyalty. And then he sat front and center and enjoyed some really great basketball.
Keithley is a champion-level supporter of Seawolf athletics and you can find his name on the Seawolf Legacy Wall, which honors donors in the Wells Fargo Sports Complex. Better still, you can find the man himself at as many home and away games as his busy work schedule will allow. A lawyer with Perkins Coie who has offices in both Anchorage and Washington D.C., Keithley gets the opportunity to travel Outside more than your average Seawolf fan. In fact, the shorter list is the one naming UAA opponents’ sports arenas he hasn’t visited. “I’ve never made Central Washington in Ellensburg and I’ve never made Western Oregon in Monmouth,” he says. But he’s caught games in Hawaii, California, Montana, Washington, Texas and Idaho.
As a supporter of UAA, Keithley says, “One of the reasons I gravitated toward the athletics program is because I think [UAA] coaches are doing a great job training leaders for future generations.”
He credits Tim Moser, UAA’s women’s basketball head coach from 2006–2012, for being not only a great strategist and tactician on the court, but also for his recruiting efforts, where he selected athletes who make great leaders and citizens. “Sarah [Herrin] was a tremendous force on the court,” he says, citing a Seawolf alum from the 2010–2011 roster. “Always diving for balls on the court, playing tremendous in-your-face defense, but playing with knowledge and an understanding of the game, a real leader for her team.” After earning a degree in justice from UAA, she accepted a position with the Kenai Police Department. “I think she’s going to be a tremendous leader. She thinks about things right. It doesn’t really matter her political position—I don’t even know her political position—but she thinks about things for the long term.” And she’s just one of a long list. Athletics, says Keithley, is key to developing those raw leadership skills. He also highlights the work of UAA’s track and field coach, Michael Friess, as a standout in developing great athletes and leaders.
Beyond his support and admiration of UAA student-athletes, Keithley has also become a fan of UAA’s Seawolf Debate team. At the urging of UAA’s former chancellor, Fran Ulmer, who told him he was missing out on some outstanding competition, he took in a debate tournament and was hooked. He wants to see more Alaskans getting involved with their hometown universities and seizes opportunities to talk about the things that have piqued his interest at the university with friends and colleagues. “Being involved in the university is, in my view, an investment in Alaska’s future, an investment in developing these kids to be the leaders Alaska is going to need,” he says. “I’m really proud of the university and I’m proud of my association with the university.”
So, when it came time to get license plates for his new car, UAA’s Tlisa Northcutt, director of development for Athletics, asked if he was planning to get UAA plates. “I thought, ‘well, I might as well go the entire way if I’m going to do that,'” and, at the expense of his driving anonymity, Keithley ordered UAA plates imprinted with “BK UAA.” He says, “If five people ask me about them and it gives me an opportunity to talk about UAA, then it’s a good trade.” It seems they’re asking and Keithley is happy to tell them the reasons he’s a fan: research coming out of the Institution for Social and Economic Research (ISER), dynamic athletics, great theatre and music and the tremendous academic resources like Stephen Haycox, Ph.D., an award-winning professor and historian who teaches history courses for the College of Arts and Sciences and the Honors College. “His understanding and his appreciation of Alaska issues—how to think about Alaska—is invaluable,” Keithley says.
What does Keithley love most about UAA? “I love the character and the quality of the kids that UAA is attracting. I think they’re going to be great citizens. Great leaders.” He was excited to meet up with UAA’s women’s basketball team on his other home turf in Washington, D.C. early in their season to see just how far they could go as leaders. The team met Alaska’s congressional delegation and received a personal tour of the State Capitol from Sen. Lisa Murkowski. You can view photos of the team (and Keithley!) with Sen. Murkowski on her Flickr feed.
“In Alaska, we need leaders at all levels—community-level, borough-level, state-level,” Keithley says. And he’ll continue to champion UAA’s leaders-in-training as they progress from athletic courts, debate lecterns and research labs on up to their posts as community and civic leaders. UAA students unquestionably feel the boost from fans like Keithley, making it likely that today’s class rosters list tomorrow’s senators.