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When is a coach not a coach?

To the editor:

Thursday night was senior night for the Kings Fork baseball team. It’s a time-honored tradition in which the school and the coach recognize and honor the senior players on the team. All sports do it. All the players look forward to it.

This fall, during the football season, my son was injured (torn ACL) midway through the season. On senior night, he was still introduced with the seniors, and as a matter of fact Coach Jones escorted him out to the field. Now that’s a coach.

Earlier this week, I could hear the girls’ soccer team seniors being introduced, and tonight (May 13) was the baseball team’s turn. Now, my son is still recovering from his knee surgery. He probably won’t get the OK to return to action until June 1 at the earliest.

But he loved baseball so much that he still went to all of the baseball practices, unless he had therapy. He went to almost every game — home and away. He worked with the younger players. He rode the team bus to away games.

He did all of this knowing he probably would not to get to play a single play with the team this year. But he still supported his team. He was just as much a part of this team as he was the previous two years, when he was a starter for the varsity team.

Then came senior night, and he was told he wouldn’t be introduced with his team. He wasn’t recognized by the coach when the coach gave a little speech about each player over the loudspeaker. He didn’t receive the traditional rose that seniors receive. All he received was disappointment.

Now, I’ve tried to impress it into my son’s head that even though he may not be able to play, he can still support the team and help the players. He understood that and he was there for them. But when it came time for the coach to be there for my son, he was nowhere to be found.

Now what kind of message is he sending to our kids? I confronted the coach as to why he didn’t recognize our son, and I was told “he wasn’t a part of the team.” Well, then, I guess someone needs to explain to me what a team player is.

I was also told by this coach that it wasn’t his decision in the fall (meaning to play football) that put my son in this position. I’ve known all along that this coach was upset that my son was injured playing football. These are the breaks we all deal with in life. But to hold that decision against my son is just wrong on so many levels.

I ask again, “What kind of message does this send to our kids?”

I am so thankful that this guy has said this is his last year coaching. The school deserves better. The students deserve better. The players deserve better. And I think my son deserved better. Nothing can fix this. The damage is done.

I apologize to any parent or student that I may have offended at the baseball field tonight. But I will never apologize to the guy who thought he was the baseball coach at Kings Fork. He wasn’t a coach, he was merely a figurehead. A coach would have never done this to one of his most loyal supporters.

Here’s hoping that whoever they find to replace this guy understands what “dedication” means. I hope this never happens to another child here at Kings Fork, or Suffolk, or anywhere for that matter.

So I ask all of you: “When is a coach not a coach?” I will tell you that it’s when he turns his back on his players.