Sometimes, God has to hit people upside the head to get their attention.
Keith Salscheider counts himself among them.
“My pro career ended when I got two concussions about 4 ½ months apart from getting hit in the head by elbows,” Maranatha’s new men’s basketball coach said. “That was a pretty clear indication God was leading me out of it.”
Salscheider, 32, retired as a player in the summer of 2009. Coaching seemed the most logical way for him to pass on the practical and spiritual lessons learned while playing minor league professional basketball across the U.S. and around the world.
“I wanted to put all those experiences to good use somehow,” Salschedier said. “Coaching was an obvious way to do that.”
Maranatha’s players will now become the beneficiary of that knowledge.
Salscheider is somewhat familiar with his new team from having coached against it—he spent the 2011-12 season as an assistant coach at Northern Athletics Conference foe Edgewood College. Coaching is also in his blood. His father, Karl, is the winningest coach (147 victories) in Bemidji State University’s men’s basketball history. Karl Salscheider remains a health professor at that college.
“The BSU gymnasium was on the other side of our house,” Keith Salscheider recalled. “I went to practice every day. Those players were my heroes.”
The Salscheider family also spent plenty of non-gym time at Faith Baptist Church in Bemidji, where Keith accepted Christ at age 6. His younger brothers played for Maranatha and his younger sister is employed by the College as a graphic artist.
“Give my parents a lot of credit; they modeled the behavior they talked about,” Salscheider said. “Because of that, when I left home, my faith was my own. It was never something my parents forced us into. We just saw them live it every day.”
Salschedier earned a Bachelor of Science degree in sport management and is pursuing a master’s degree in athletic administration. His college career included stops at Liberty University, St. Cloud State (MN) and Christian Heritage College (CA), now San Diego Christian College, where he was a first-team All-America selection by the National Christian College Athletic Association.
His professional basketball career began with two years in Australia, where he averaged 28.5 and 23 points per game. He also played professionally in Denmark and New Zealand. Salscheider was closest to making an NBA roster in 2007-08 when he averaged 17 points per game and shot 45 percent from 3-point range for the Great Falls (MT) Explorers of the Continental Basketball Association. He played in the CBA and the NBA Developmental League from 2005-08.
“I realized the odds were against (the NBA) when I was playing as well as anybody in the league and still didn’t get called up,” Salschedier said. “I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know if I can play much better than this.’ ”
Salscheider’s first stop as a head coach will be an interesting challenge. The Crusaders were 5-22 last winter, but were competitive with the top teams in the conference and will return their entire roster next season.
“I think Maranatha is looking for a unique student-athlete, which makes the recruiting pool a little bit smaller, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do well,” Salscheider said. “I’m no magician, but there are little things that sometimes go unnoticed, things I’ve gathered over the years. These players will be doing a lot of things they’re not used to. It’s going to be different, but it’s going to be exciting.”