Hester will appeal firing as New Hope baseball coach

June 19, 2009

Adam Minichino - [email protected]


Stacy Hester said Thursday he plans to appeal the recommendation of Lowndes County School District Superintendent Mike Halford and the vote of the county''s school board that he not be retained as New Hope High School baseball coach. 


"I want them to man up and tell me why," Hester said. "It is just amazing (this has happened after) all of the things I have done and have been a part of out in that program. (It is a shame that after) one little incident all of this stuff kind of blows up and you''re gone. I think they are hiding the fact that I had an at-will contract and they don''t have to tell me a thing." 


Hester returned to Lowndes County on Thursday morning after coaching a team of the state of Mississippi''s top junior baseball players in the Junior Sunbelt Classic in McAlester, Okla. He said he would have remained in Columbus last Friday if he would have had an opportunity to speak to the school board or to answer any questions at the meeting. 


But Hester said he wasn''t contacted or wasn''t asked to appear before Halford or the five school board members.  


None of the school board members asked to have the issue of Hester''s status pulled from the consent agenda, where it could have been up for an open vote. 


The board then voted 5-0 to accept Halford''s recommendation. 


Hester said neither Halford nor any school board members have contacted him since the June 12 decision to tell him why it was made. He said he was given 10 days to appeal the decision. He said his appeal is an attempt to learn the reasons why after June 30 he will be out of a job as New Hope High baseball coach after 18 years. 


Hester''s status as the school''s baseball coach was as an at-will employee means he could be terminated at any time. 


New Hope won 551 games in Hester''s 18 years as coach. It won state titles in 1996, ''98, and 2003, six North Half state titles, advanced to nine Final Fours since 1995, and was nationally ranked seven times. 


In addition, the Trojans in 1996 set a national record and a state of Mississippi record for wins went they went 43-0. In 1996-97, New Hope won 51 consecutive games, including 68 straight against teams from the state of Mississippi. 


Hester said he is still interested in coaching baseball but that he would like to stay in the area to be close to his family and to manage his landscaping business. He said he plans to remain at New Hope High as a driver''s education teacher and as a school bus driver. 


Hester said there were times during the tournament in Oklahoma that he thought he was involved in his final games as a baseball coach. He said he believes he can live without baseball if he had to, but he isn''t ready for that time. 


"I guarantee people on that board have heard so many lies about me and are thinking, ''We don''t need this guy, or How has he been coach this many years,'' " Hester said. "But where were all of these things before, and why after one incident at Hernando or after one incident where I tell a woman to hush (am I fired?). 


"I have always been loyal to the school and to the community, and I never bought into the politics of pleasing everybody, but I guess that is what eventually got me fired. I did the job my way and not the way they wanted me to." 


Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.