Article Comment 

Coaches defend Hester's coaching tactics

 

Adam Minichino

 

Billy Ray Lee knows there is a fine line in coaching. 

 

In more than 30 years as a coach, Lee has learned some players respond to one style of coaching while others need to be motivated another way. 

 

Lee has seen that dynamic play out in his two years with the New Hope High School baseball program. 

 

In that time, Lee has seen New Hope High coach Stacy Hester is a lot like him. 

 

"Coach Hester is just like I was in Alabama," said Lee, who coached at Pickens County High in Reform, Ala., from 1973-98. "I got onto kids when I thought they needed to be gotten onto. I tried to treat them fairly and he tries to do that." 

 

Lee is one of several area coaches who commented Saturday in response to news that Hester''s job as baseball coach at New Hope High is in jeopardy. 

 

The Lowndes County School District Board appears ready to deliver a 5-0 vote that Hester not return as the Trojans'' coach.  

 

Hester said Lowndes County School District Superintendent Mike Halford told him he wouldn''t recommend he be retained based on the poll he took of the five members of the school board. 

 

The school board could vote June 12 at its next scheduled meeting to determine Hester''s fate. 

 

If that happens, Lee will be surprised. 

 

"I can''t believe people are carrying some of things that happened as far as they are," said Lee, who works with the varsity and the junior high teams at New Hope and is in charge of the school''s ninth-grade team. "It is kind of hard to put a term on it. I don''t think it should have gone this far. He was punished for the incident at Hernando and that should have been the end of it, I thought." 

 

Lee said he didn''t see a problem with how Hester coaches the baseball team. He said it often is difficult for a coach because some parents think a coach''s discipline on their son or daughter is too tough, while others believe it is not tough enough. 

 

Through all of that, Lee said he never saw Hester play favorite to one player over another. 

 

"He is hard on his kids but he is fair," Lee said. "I saw coaches in the playoffs this year that were as vocal, if not more vocal than coach Hester. Coach Hester plays the player he feels is best equipped to play at that time. He makes that judgment based on how they practice and how they perform in games. I have never seen and have never known him to play a player because who he was or who his parents are. If you look at his stats, the players that play for him put the effort in and have performed." 

 

First-year assistant coach Eric Guerrero said he doesn''t know how things have gotten to the point where Hester might not return next season. He said he knew of New Hope''s tradition (five state titles, the past three, 1996, ''98, 2003 under Hester) before he arrived in Columbus and was excited to get a chance to work with Hester. 

 

"I have learned so much in a short amount of time," Guerrero said. "It goes to expectation. He expects the best out of everyone whether it be a player or a coach, and he expects you to live up to it, and if you don''t he will let you know. There is no fault in that. You know where you stand always with coach Hester." 

 

New Hope High assistant coach Chris Ball, who is Hester''s son in law, also said he didn''t know how the situation got to this point. 

 

"He did get punished. If they thought he was a threat to the kids why did they put him back in the dugout?" Ball said. "I don''t understand how someone gets punished and they let him go after the punishment and then punish him again." 

 

Ball said Hester might be "loud" and a "disciplinarian," and those are qualities that some people don''t like. He said he doesn''t know how the situation will end. 

 

"If it can happen to him it can happen to anybody. It doesn''t matter what school," Ball said. "It could be a bad trend." 

 

Heritage Academy baseball coach Steve Hancock, who worked as an assistant baseball coach at Columbus High from 1999-2001 and at New Hope High from 2002-04, said Hester is "a good man" and that he "respects" Hester and how hard he works, but that he isn''t involved in the situation at the school and didn''t want to say anything else. 

 

New Hope High assistant coach Steve Younger and Caledonia High coach Sam Adams declined to comment for this story. 

 

Messages left for Columbus High coach Jeff Cook and Hernando High coach Chris Chism weren''t returned. 

 

 

Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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Reader Comments

Article Comment Lance White commented at 5/24/2009 10:32:00 PM:

I am a 1997 graduate of NHHS and former player for Coach Stacey Hester. It saddens me to hear that this situation even exists. Every successful person I know has made a mistake in the heat of the moment when emotions are high. Say he is let go. Where do we go from here? If anyone thinks that there is better candidate to teach kids not only the game of baseball, but how to overcome adversity and sacrifice to achieve perfection, then they are mistaken. Everything this man stands for, exemplifies the traits it takes to be a success. He demanded that we put in countless volumes of effort, time, and hard work to achieve the goals that we set out to reach from the first day we set foot on that field. He excepted nothing less than excellence and if that is not what the people in this community want, then maybe he should go. My four years under him was as big a part of my transition from a boy to a man as any other influence in my life. I am a husband, a father, and have a wonderful career. If any of that can be viewed as a success then I owe a big part of it to him. You cannot be around baseball anywhere in the state of MS. for very long without seeing his influence. Whether it be former colleagues or players, his passion and drive has spread far and wide. I challenge everyone in this community to be pro-active in putting an end to this situation. I challenge the members of the board to look at the entire body of his career, consider the lives touched by him, and put their personal agendas aside and then make the right decision. It would truly be a great loss not only to the program but to the entire community if he is realeased.

 

Article Comment CONCERNED FAN commented at 5/25/2009 3:27:00 PM:

ONE THING FOR SURE THERE IS NO FAIR AND BALANCED IN THE COMMERICAL DISPATCH. JUST UNBALANCED.
IT IS HARD FOR ME TO BELIEVE I WAS AT THE SAME GAME AS THESE COACHES. MR & MRS TICE WERE VERY UPSET WITH THE TREATMENT OF THEIR SON ON SAT AND SUN TO THE POINT HE WAS GOING TO GET SOMETHING DONE BEFORE SOMEONE ELSES CHILD WAS HURT. THEN SOMETHING HAPPENED FOR THINGS TO CHANGED SO FAST ON MON., ONE CAN ONLY WONDER?? I THINK WE ALL PROBABLY KNOW..

 

Article Comment Mr. Know commented at 5/26/2009 11:48:00 PM:

I am going to have to agree with you Concerned Fan. There is nothing FAIR and BALANCED about these articles. Every paragraph is slanted like the man sees fit. Why? Simply because neither the board NOR Halford can comment on this issue.

Rest assured - at some point, the truth will come out on all of these situations.

 

Article Comment Mr. Know commented at 5/27/2009 12:02:00 AM:

I am going to have to agree with you Concerned Fan. There is nothing FAIR and BALANCED about these articles. Every paragraph is slanted like the man sees fit. Why? Simply because neither the board NOR Halford can comment on this issue.

Rest assured - at some point, the truth will come out on all of these situations.

 

Article Comment hk commented at 5/27/2009 12:58:00 PM:

Everyone needs to be honest--even in little league-coaches yell at kids.. I have seen them crying in the dugout at age 9! If you do not want your kids--coached--then take them out of sports! Parents do not need to take this so personal.. Show me a coach that has never raised their voice to a 10th grade baseball player.. ha!

 

Article Comment mrs pyle commented at 5/27/2009 2:25:00 PM:

Reminding everyone about tonight's meeting at 8:00pm, Trojan Baseball Field.

It will be interesting to see "who's looking at who", who'll be in the shadows, who'll be in their cars with binoculars or standing on the street. I just hope and pray adults will be attending and NOT their inner child~ Mrs.Pyle

 

Article Comment hk commented at 5/27/2009 3:41:00 PM:

just a reminder to everyone--no one is perfect--how would you feel if your fate were up to a meeting like this after all of the hard work you have done at your job. Like everyone out there has not made a mistake at their job.. please consider that before you talk about this situation. This is a man's JOB!

 

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