June 24, 2009
I read in the Friday, June 19 paper that Coach Stacy Hester is going to appeal the County School Board''s decision to not renew his baseball contract (The headline incorrectly stated: "Hester to appeal firing"--he was not fired). I do not know Coach Hester, but judging from his win-loss record, we are indeed losing a talent. I hope he will chase his dream in the college or professional ranks to do there what he has done for New Hope.
As a forth generation Lowndes Countian, and third generation lawyer, Coach Hester''s decision to appeal is odd at best. Coach Hester was an "at will" employee, or one who works at the will and sufferance of the School Board. Like the Caledonia Coaches whose contracts were not renewed (and may have gone to a lawyer and been told they had no case, I don''t know), Coach Hester simply has no case. At will employees may be non-renewed for good cause, bad cause or no cause at all.
With that said, Coach Hester made mention that he was going to stay at New Hope and drive a bus and teach driver''s education. Again, what a wasted talent. For a coach that wants to "man up," I would think that Coach Hester''s presence at New Hope with a new coach would be disruptive, at best. And also, obviously Coach Hester''s desire is to coach baseball, and boy can he do that. You need simply look at the win-loss record. Phenomenal!
I have conferred, professionally, with some of the people involved in baseball at New Hope who have had kids coached by Coach Hester. One child''s father came to me after Coach Hester had called him "stupid" and "sorry." After counseling, I am happy to report that the dignity lost by this child by Coach Hester''s comments was restored unto him. It took time. That year, New Hope baseball did well.
The reason we have sports in schools is to build the character of our youth. Of course, if the sporting team wins a lot of games, we are all proud of this, but I submit that the best interest of our children should be our polestar concern and the best interest of them is compromised and, indeed, shattered, when their role model calls them "stupid."
Growing up, I had a mentally retarded sister, Judith. I loved her more than life itself. Judith tried to be "normal," but could not be normal. God had chosen to make Judith special, and did a truly remarkable thing with Judith. Judith was too retarded to fully understand it when heartless, insensitive and ignorant people called her "stupid," and a lot of them did. I would try to explain to Judith that that man/woman/child was the "stupid" one, but that offered little solace to my special sister. Imagine how the cutting remark by Coach Hester can impact a child to the point of them seeking psychological counseling.
As one of the youth court public defenders, I sometimes see the crushed egos of children caused by comments by teachers/coaches, such as "stupid." Our educators are there to help build up the confidence of our children, not tear it down.
In the article, Coach Hester mentions "one incident at Hernando or after one incident where I tell a woman to hush (am I fired?)." I think the Hernando incident was when he allegedly physically assaulted a player, putting his forearm on his neck and drawing back. I think the "hush" incident was when the parent asked the coach to quit calling players "stupid," as he had been asked before.
My father, Ben Owen, was the most successful pee-wee football coach in the history of Lowndes County. Now, he was stern. He would threaten to put his boot in a rearward part of one''s anatomy and send them over a pecan tree. Never, never, would he resort to "stupid," or simple assault. I know that pee-wee is a far cry from high stakes High School baseball where we all should be proud of our teams'' win-loss record, particularly Coach Hester''s. I submit, however, that when "stupid" enters the equation, that as parents and protectors of our kids, we owe it to them to build up their psychic well being and not run it into the ground.
The writer is a Columbus attorney. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
tom brown commented at 6/24/2009 2:03:00 PM:
david: good article and whats done is done...your father took his personal time to coach pee wee football and we at the airbase played against his teams many an afternoon....our coach (coach wright) was loved by all of us in fact we would show up at the barracks on our bicycles before practice just to make sure he showed up...he always showed up! it was something kids did at that age....tom brown
NH Parent commented at 6/24/2009 11:57:00 PM:
Great piece of work David. I have to say that the title of your piece says it all.
Concerned Parent commented at 6/25/2009 6:38:00 PM:
Dear Mr. Owens,
The point that should be made is that there is a need for change in our leadership at LCSB. We can debate the point over and over as to whether Mr. Hester should be retained, but he wasn't. More importantly, why this Board chose to fire this coach at this time. I truly feel that all the stars lined up just in the right order to allow Mr. Halford and Dr. Buckley to do what they wanted and the rest of spineless members did as they were asked.
Questions that need to be asked: Why did the school board members not take calls for those parents/people supporting Stacy Hester? Why have other coaches not been fired for more grevious acts that have been committed?
Seriously, calling a person "stupid" is not a firing offense, but maybe we can use this as a basis to fire the entire LCSB for acting that way? (Please note that I stated that their actions were stupid!)
NH Parent commented at 6/25/2009 8:28:00 PM:
Our leadership did exactly what they needed to do, get rid of a bully who took great pleasure in berating kids. He finally stepped over the line and put his hands on the wrong kid. Regardless of what happened two days after the incident, everyone saw the great fear the parents were exhibiting the night of the incident and the day after. You can't say it didn't happen when everyone, players and coaches, in the dugout saw exactly what this man is capable of when he loses control.
Grevious acts? So you agree that Hester pinned the kid against the dugout wall with his elbow? No one was fired for saying stupid. The man was fired for a physical altercation involving a student-athlete at New Hope. When are you people going to stop blaming others for the mans actions? It's over and you need to crawl back in your hole.
Thank you Mr. H and the LCSB for getting it right and putting faith in what the kids wrote down on paper. They saw what happened unlike all you big mouthed supporters who would believe anything that man said. Why would any kid want to play for a coach who might attack them next? He was fired for that reason and nothing else, just like Mr. H said in the paper. He knew he was fired before he took off to Oklahoma as Mr. H also stated in the paper. As always, he's just a whiner who blames others when he doesn't get his way. This has been going on for 18 years.
Goodbye Goodbye Goodbye to the Hesters.
Irony commented at 6/25/2009 11:11:00 PM:
Just like the caption on the newhopetrojans.com it time to move along there is nothing else to see. If baseball is the only thing New hope has to offer maybe it was time for a gut check. Give us a break, you want a coaches conduct to coach by and a set of rules to coach by how about practicing what you preach. The blame for what has happened has been placed on everbody but the man that for that defying moment in time lost his control. Hester its time for you to move along, you did great things for New Hope and they will be just fine. If the truth would have been revealed in the beginning, the true compassion for the success you had at New Hope would have out weighed your dismissal. Move along and let it go. New Hope baseball will prosper in the future because the community supports the baseball program and that will all ways be bigger than who the head coach maybe.
rushing 12 commented at 6/26/2009 7:56:00 PM:
I would be willing to bet a hundred dollars to a bucket of dirt that New Hope baseball will continue its success without its former coach. People don't realize that New Hope baseball was successful before hester and it will continue after he is gone.Class of 1980
Coach commented at 6/27/2009 2:26:00 AM:
As I have tried to learn more about New Hope since the basbeall coaches job has come open a friend told me to check out this site and read some articles about what has happened and the comments of people to the articles. He felt it would give me an idea of what to expect and hear different sides to the coaches firing. I have coached for many years and I don't believe I have ever seen such a mess. I don't know Coach Hester or his family but I have heard of New Hope Baseball and it's winning ways from 100's of miles away. Any coach in his right mind will research an area, the school and community that he may have interest in before applying for a job. I have done that for New Hope. Let me say from the outside that I see that Coach Hester had a lot of support but also a lot of people who did not support him. Every school has it's "thing" that people associate that school with. It could be football, basketball or any other sport. It's sad that it's not ACT scores or overall classroom performance but that's just the way it is. When people talk of New Hope around my area it's baseball and girls softball. During my research I have learned that cheerleading has won state and national tiltes, boys basketball has a state championship and the football team had a really good run in the playoffs last year. My congrats to all, but baseball is what New Hope is known for today. The sad thing about todays society is wins and losses. The same people that wanted him gone will be wanting the next coach gone after a few lossing seasons. I've seen then happen more times than I wish to think about. Coaching is about winning, sad but true. Winning pays my bills not lossing. I don't know what happened to get the man fired but if the coach attacked a player as I have read about then yes, he should be let go. Not a month or 2 later but right then. We don't have an at will contract where I am currently so I'm not sure how your system works so I will leave that alone. In the past when a coach is under fire for something he/she has done they are suspended until the board can review the case and make a ruling. They have 96 hours to do so. Then the ruling is pasted down and life goes on. I'm still not in the know how you are fired as a coach because of the safety of the kids and still allowed to teach, that's still not very clear to me but I don't know all the facts either. For this matter to be best put behind all involved and the school and community it needs to start hear with the bashing. After reading the bashing of former coaches, school board members and others it turns many future coaches away like myself. Just because people don't post on here doesn't mean they don't read it. Coaches use all availible sources at hand to research possible jobs and this is one. I may have never gotten the chance to coach at New Hope anyway but a grest coach may be turned away for your school from bashing and things said here, I know I am... Best of luck to New Hope and thier search for a baseball coach.....
Outsider Looking In commented at 6/27/2009 5:35:00 PM:
Mr. Owen, you make remarks from a lawyer's standpoint. This shows the lower class people like myself your knowledge. But, I know you. You are the same trust fund baby that has depleted your fathers land estate that he left your family with your own inner addictions. Please If you have a opinion or personal attack keep it to yourself. Its impossible to keep skeletons in the closet in Columbus,MS.
Baseball Parent commented at 6/28/2009 12:34:00 AM:
You have just proved that most people only know the side of the story written about in the local newspaper. If you base your reasoning for not applying for a coaching job based on the local newspaper's one sided opinion, then we don't want you here anyway. Please stay where you are and keep your job. It's foolish for you to believe that ALL parents are like some of the ones who write stuff in this paper.
We will be good again next year, and the next year and the year after that too. If you are afraid of the parents at New Hope, then you are insulting us to the highest degree. We are what makes the New Hope baseball program work. We do more than any coach has ever given us credit for and will continue to do that in the future no matter who the coach is.
As you stated, if the coach did physically assault the player he should be fired. Well, his current disposition should show you that the current administration doesn't tolerate such actions and he will be moving on.
walter turner commented at 6/29/2009 12:23:00 PM:
Without knowing more concerning the firing of Coach Hester (whom I do not know personally), the allegations reported in the media surrounding his losing his job are quite disturbing. Was he terminated for engaging in what was common practice in "old school" coaches? It was called "Making young boys, men!" back in the day. It was designed, they believed, to toughen up young boys with potential, to bring out of them their fighter instinct, if they had it in them to begin. Of course, there is a fine line between coaching and abusing. There is also a difference between an allegation and fact.
Was the coach ever confronted about his coaching style? To what extent do other coaches within the conference engage in similar tactics? Are players' personalities softer or more steely than those of players in years goneby? More importantly, was there any way to salvage the coach's position and to allow him to continue to produce first-class baseball players, as well as, first-class human being?
Hopefully, there are no personal vendettas involved and hopefully the same reasons, if legitimate, that were involved in "firing" Coach Hester will also be observed when dealing with others in the school system, whether they're coaches, teachers, administrators, vendors or otherwise.
diehardfan commented at 6/30/2009 7:52:00 PM:
BB Parent, I hope the Dizzy Dean games is not a preview of whats to come? Coach Hester is not going any where he will be at school every day. I am sure he will enjoy watching what happens in NH baseball over the next three years. The board might have done him a favor, every one wonders how many coaches we will go through to find the right one?
Baseball Parent commented at 7/2/2009 12:01:00 AM:
diehardfan: do you ever read the newspaper? It was noted before the tournament ever started that five or six of next years seniors were playing in the State Games in Meridian. A lot of younger players played in those games. Also, as far as the coaching went, Ball has coached those teams all summer and Hester hasn't been doing that since high school baseball ended. Why are you being so mean to Chris Ball and putting down his coaching?
walter turner: it's obvious you have no clue what you are talking about. Stacy Hester was accused of shoving a player and then pinning that player against a wall with his arm and starting the motion of striking that 17 yr old kid. That has nothing to do with "old school" baseball or teaching young players to be men. According to the LAW, it is actually known as assault. That is why Hester is no longer employed by the Lowndes County Schools. Ask the other twenty so players who were in the dugout that day what happened and you'll get the same story that his parents were telling for two days after that.
walter turner commented at 7/6/2009 4:37:00 PM:
BBP, as I acnowledged from the start, I wasn't present, and I don't know what happened. However, as you implied in the second sentence, of the second paragraph of your 7/2 post, neither do you. You said, and I quote: "Stacy Hester was ACCUSED...and starting the motion of striking that 17 yr old kid." If you were any less clueless than you and I both recognize me to be, then you would not have found it necessary to write ACCUSED. Eyewitnesses do not have to use such a disclaimer as that to state what they know to be a fact. Your use of it clearly indicates that you're merely repeating an allegation you heard from another.
What I am not clueless about is the style of coaching that I personally witnessed while a student at R.E. Hunt High School. Our great, great running back, Elbert Drungo, formerly of the Houston Oilers (now the Titans...condolences to the family of Steve McNair) was coached by an "Old School" coach. The same is true of T.C., Hound, Fourteen, Poindexter, Mohawk, "Pig Iron," Fats, Catfish, Eugene, Whiskey and a number of other incredible athletes. If you told them that Coach Hester, allegedly, merely "started the motion of striking" a 17 yr. old player, they would probably look at you in utter bewilderment, after reflecting back on their playing days.
Prayer is no longer permitted in the schools. Unruly kids cannot be disciplined as they once were. Are the students still taught and encouraged to recite The Pledge of Allegiance? As I stated, BBP, I don't know what is going on within my hometown schools. But, you can bet your bottom dollar, I'm concerned enough to try to find out. There is a thin line between coaching and abusing. Neither of us were there, apparently to witness what transpired. Both of us are concerned enough to express our interest in the student. And that, in my humble opinion, is a good thing for the entire school system. Concerned parents and concerned citizens are prerequisites to developing and maintaining great schools.
Rest assured, BBP, I am not nearly as clueless as you might think, or hope. What the parents said for "two days" afterward or twenty of the "injured" player's teammates said is not nearly as important as determining what the standard is for coaching in baseball and all other sports in the city and region. If the facts demonstrate that the standard, if there is one, was violated, then whatever action taken to reprimand, sanction, punish Coach Hester should be universal, throughout the district. That, BBP, is the point I had hoped to make.
I don't often look back, after commenting. I did time time, however, after accidentally coming upon the story, again, while searching elsewhere on the internet. I want only the best for all of the students in Columbus and Lowndes County, including those in the private academies. To achieve that, they must have only the best administrators, teachers and coaches. We will only retain and keep the best people by treating them the same and demonstrating to them that there is not, and will not be, any disparate treatment of any of them.
1. Possumhaw: Fishing, flowers and fall LOCAL COLUMNS
3. Editorial cartoon for 9-25-17 NATIONAL COLUMNS