June 19, 2009
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.
DonEBrook commented at 6/19/2009 1:04:00 PM:
I still say that Hester should run against Buckley in the next election.
Jon commented at 6/19/2009 2:59:00 PM:
I think the school board should have conducted some sort of hearing before making a decision like this. Baseball was one of the few good things New Hope had going for it, but now what? I think it's a bad move on the school boards behalf and all the members should be removed. I will not vote for any of them again.
Softball Parent commented at 6/19/2009 4:06:00 PM:
New Hope has had many good things going for it before the Hesters moved to town. Softball has been the top program in the state for years and has the MANY STATE CHAMPIONSHIP banners to show for it. What was the streak, 6 or 7 in a row last time I looked? Baseball hasn't won a championship since 2004 (I would verify this but Paul took down the baseball site like someone was going to find something there). We've got State and National Championships in cheerleading. We've got a great school too. So, before you start mouthing again about baseball being one of the few things going for it, you need to go and look around and see all the championship banners hanging in different areas of the campus.
There is policy set for the district that all teachers and coaches are to abide by and the school board will do what the policy states. If you put your hands on a kid lie all the other team members said he did, then you have to pay for the crime. I still can't believe all you people are patting this man on the back for pushing a kid and then holding him against the wall with his elbow. The facts are on paper and when you keep saying in the paper you don't know why you were fired, then you just are an arrogant person who can't admit he is wrong.
Adam - question for you. Why are you on this man's bandwagon with all these articles? Is it because someone related to you works at New Hope High School?
Stacy - when are you going to stop using the word "I" and start giving the kids who actually played in and won the state championships some credit. As always, you make everything about you with the constant use of I in all these articles. Ever thought that is why most players despise you when they leave the program? Don't come at me with all this stuff about all these players stepping up and being on your side. Where are they? Only a handful came to your support.
Trojan Horse commented at 6/19/2009 5:45:00 PM:
Firing Hester is an embarrassment to Lowndes County. Although New Hope is a tightly knit community, it's still a part of Lowndes County. As a taxpayer, I'm very disappointed with this decision.
thm commented at 6/19/2009 6:03:00 PM:
I love Bob & Amy Buckley!
rushing12 commented at 6/19/2009 9:45:00 PM:
I love Mike Halford, Robert Buckley, and all the other Lowndes County school board members on this issue.
HGJ commented at 6/19/2009 10:59:00 PM:
Boy you talk about a USELESS and unfair school board Coach Stacy never had a chance. WHY NOT seat down with each other and find out from Coach about the things that are being said about all of this.
Sam I Am commented at 6/20/2009 2:08:00 AM:
Great statement, Softball Parent. Like I've said all along, it's about him in his eyes.
Outsider commented at 6/20/2009 5:33:00 AM:
I have refrained from posting on any of the sites discussing Coach Hester's situation. After spending a week watching him coach Team Mississippi at the Sun Belt I feel obligated to express my opinion.
It was obvious that the players, coaching staff, parents and host families from McAlester had nothing but total respect for the man. Some of these individuals have known and worked with him for 18 years. Softball Parent and Sam I Am, nothing I observed this week was "about him".
I seriously doubt either of you would have fulfilled a prior commitment away from home and family if you knew your job was on the line. That is something that only those who are truly following their calling would do. And for the record, my son barely had any playing time this week. I still feel it was a privilege for him to be on the team and to be coached by someone of Coach Hester's caliber. It is a shame that politics, pouting parents and pampered children now take precedent over professionalism. If you think you are helping your child by getting a coach that will baby them they will never be more than that, babies. Wait until they get to college and experience the real world. For those that appreciated what they had I am sorry for your loss but rest assured he had a positive impact on your child. I am sure that where ever Coach Hester ends up he will be better off and so will the players he will be coaching. To Mrs. Hester and family, you will be blessed. Keep the faith.
F. Howard commented at 6/20/2009 10:03:00 AM:
Outsider...you hit the nail on the head. I, too, watched Team Mississippi play in Oklahoma. This was my first year going and the kids on the team, the parents in McAlester spoke highly of my friends, the whole Hester family. They have respect for the kind of coach he is and the person they get to know personally. It was a lot of fun. There isn't one person who agrees or disagrees with the board's decision, who is perfect. We all say and do things we wish we could take back, maybe we all should take a long, hard look in the mirror and see if we like the person looking back.
diehardfan commented at 6/20/2009 10:36:00 AM:
Softball Parent how many state championships have been won in fastpitch? I think that is what they play at the next level. I believe both programs have never had a losing season by thier respective coach so they are both winners, you must be displined to play for either of them, not a lot of difference in thier styles both coaches are very intense and effective and they both play the best 9 which does not set well with every one.
If coach Hester feels it is about himself why does he have a banquent and give awards to the deserving players and those awards are based on performance, If it was about him then why not just give himself a big trophy! and go home. Are all of you reading the same news paper, he praises the kids that perform and discusses the missed oppurtunities and if I had a son that played and had a bad attitude I would not mind him calling him out maybe it would change his attitude for the better, what is wrong with being honest.
Also softball parent I would like to see how you would have handle the sitution on the field in the playoffs knowing what would happen if a fight started, I don't think you or no else can know how because you have to live it to know what you would have done. Things have gotten so turned around in our world that when kids get in a fight it is the adult that gets discplined? School board what were you thinking. Everyone knows that the issue in the playoff game has nothing to do with him not coaching if it did they would have released him right after the incident, lets see did the kid that started the incident get suspended?
Coach Hester is a great coach even if you don't care for his coaching style, he is a winner and no matter what people say its all about the kids I have to many fromer players say they were taught life lessons from Coach Hester he has touched many young men and there are younger kids that could not wait to play for him.
All I can say is the next coach has some big shoes to fill. Good luck to them.
Appellation commented at 6/20/2009 4:05:00 PM:
The AM article leaves out one very important detail. Who, What or Where is the appeal to??? And where are the rules that spell out the appeals process?? If the appeal is to circuit court, then personnel files will likely become public. Then we'll have some meat to chew on, no more he said they said she said he said......
diehardfan commented at 6/20/2009 7:40:00 PM:
Lurker I to have to ask, have you ever been in that type of situation? So you are saying that the young man has no responsibility in what happened? If you have children then you should understand the incident completely, Did you miss the West Lowndes vs. NH basketball game when the fight broke out in the student section and Sheriffs Deputy had to take 4 or 5 students to the ground pepper spray them and basically fight them because they would not stop charging at the other subjects. No body went crazy over the coaches jumping in that night and slamming kids up against the wall or on the floor for that matter. Because some times you have do whats in the best interest on the child's safety it might mean using force. If it means holding him against the wall then so be it.
In this case the player wanted to go back out on the field to confront the other player and number 13 was a big boy and the player was saying he was going back out on the field, Coach just used the amount of force needed to prevent that from happening. Have you ever stopped a fight or even an argument between two kids in todays time. Most will fight you, they are not scared and there is no respect for adults today.
O.K. you want to say what if coach had hit him, lets try this on for size what if he escorted him back to the dug out, turned to walk away and the player grabs a bat runs on the field and injury's someone? That is Hester fault for not restraining him. You see there could be a million what ifs. There was no black eyes, no hitting, he used the amount of force he felt needed to get his attention and the situation under control, guess what, it worked.
And no one still will not say that the player himself has no responsibility in talking back to an adult, disobeying the directions of his coach. Was the player ever even talked to about its not right to talk back! its not right to put your team in a bad light by almost getting in to a fight? I am sure his dad did because he is a good father and a good man, What about any school officials? Or was Hester just suspended over the incident because that is what someone in power thought should happen.
Maybe some people were looking for a reason to get rid of him. And as for what the players wrote I'm sure it was not pretty the whole incident was not pretty. The board should talk with each player today and see how its changed just over a month and a half. Did they write that the player was not respecting the coach because he was mad at #13 discipline and respect has gone out the window for a lot kids today and we need role models and leaders like Coach Hester to keep them in line because we as parents are nothing like our moms and dads were in the good old days.
Boy if I ever did that in a ball game Hester would not have to grab me, my dad would have jumped the fence and kicked my but.
Sam I Am commented at 6/21/2009 2:12:00 AM:
Outsider...of course he was different this week. If you had been fired already, you would act differently also. If he went up there and acted like he does here, his cover would have been blown.
overthetop commented at 6/21/2009 2:54:00 AM:
You must be one miserable person. Do you have that big of a problem with Coach Hester that you go to every article and critcize the man. It is clear that you are a former parent or player that got their feelings hurt. But is alson clear that you are a coward that wants to hide behind your little screen name. How revealing yur true name. Or how about this, confront the man yourself, no wait, that would require courage and guts and show a little dignity, that you apparently do not have. It doesn't require anything to get on these articles and make little comments about someone, but what it does take is a LITTLE MAN OR WOMAN with no backbone to face someone who they must really hate. So how about growing a set and face the man face to face instead of hiding like a coward
Observer of the Chaos commented at 6/22/2009 12:28:00 AM:
Nothing is ever Coach Hester's fault. He is always the victim. And I've watched it for a very long time.
Admin commented at 6/22/2009 9:16:00 AM:
There is a poll regarding your views of the Lowndes County School Board on www.NewHopeTrojans.com
bear commented at 6/22/2009 4:49:00 PM:
Guess what guys, I posted comments on here supporting Hester, and calling Mike Halford spineless. That post was removed by the censors at the Dispatch. There was no vulgarity, just observations. So let me try again.
Hester's true legacy can be found in his former players who followed in his footsteps. Chris Chism, head coach/Hernando High, Rodney Batts, coach/Delta State University, Tony Montgomery, head coach/EMCC, Sam Adams, head coach/Caledonia High.
I'll say it again-parents, your kids are soft. Coach Hester won many championships, but apparantly he had a positive influence on the aforementioned gentlemen. That's the true benchamrk of his 18 yr career, and bereaucrats like Mike Halford have marginilized his career because of an upset parent, who didn't like her child being disciplined for being a smartalleck? Give me a break. What ever happened to tough love? Whatever happened to molding men? Hester's far from perfect, but how many young people have his detractors inlfuenced to such a degree that those young people chose their career path based on that influence.
Robin commented at 6/22/2009 6:08:00 PM:
As an observer of the Stacy Hester fiasco, I have discovered three points that I find extremely interesting. First, in one of the Dispatch columns, it said that the superintendent's son was on the New Hope baseball team for 5 years. The superintendent stated that he did not play as much as he would have liked. Does this not sound a lot like sour grapes? Second, after the "incident", Hester was retained as a teacher and a bus driver. Wake up, parents! What about your children? The superintendent and the board president stated they were looking out for the welfare of all the children. What children? Are they just interested in protecting those 20 or 25 high school baseball players? What about the other children that Mr. Hester teaches and transports? If he is such a danger that he must be removed from coaching, then why is he being allowed around your children? Are they talking out of both sides of their proverbial mouths? And finally, the superintendent talks about what great friends he and Stacy Hester are. Well, remember the old saying? With friends like that, who needs enemies??
appellation commented at 6/22/2009 9:47:00 PM:
Wonder why not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 otherwise reasonable persons on the board would allow the evil axis of Halford and Buckley to run over them on the way to carrying out their personal vendettas? hmmmm.
Wonder why the board would terminate an "at will" employment but not a "for cause" employment? hmmmm. Perhaps all the personnel file issues were with the "at will" job and not the "for cause" job. Perhaps the board's legal advice was they didn't have sufficient grounds to terminate the "for cause" employment, want to or no.
Perhaps the LCSD, the superintendent, and the board could be released from liability sufficiently to allow the publication of the personnel file in the dispatch. Both sides wants the info they based their decision on to come out, so why not? hmmmm. I mean Coach does want that, right?
Hmmmm. Perhaps the board views its job as keeping the district out of indefensible lawsuits. Perhaps they were cornered such as there was no other way out. Not quid pro quo, but on a prospective basis.
But, silly me, the citizens of Lowndes couldn't have possibly elected a board of otherwise reasonable persons now could they.
Hmmmmm. Just idle speculation.
BS commented at 6/22/2009 10:48:00 PM:
Only in Lowndes County can someone that has been arrested for forging prescriptions have a vote to terminate someone else's job. Great Leadership???????????
Zeke commented at 6/23/2009 12:53:00 AM:
I'm sure the board has explainations as to why Hester was let go, but they can't legally release the information. I'm shocked that so many come on here and talk about integrity in one sentence and then talk badly about the parties involved.
Yo commented at 6/23/2009 12:58:00 AM:
To all of you who are stating no one should be fired for making a mistake: If a teacher slammed a kid and other kids wrote on paper that he/she did, he/she would be fired immediately. It's one mistake, but a dumb one. So you all can throw out that argument.
Ridiculous commented at 6/24/2009 6:37:00 AM:
I played baseball for Coach Hester for 5 years, and I am now serving in Iraq for a year, and I found out the other day over here that he was being fired, I think its absolutely ridiculous that he is being fired over this, Coach Hester is one of the reasons I have so much discipline, he cares for every single person/player that has stepped on and off that field!
Okie Mom commented at 6/26/2009 6:57:00 PM:
Sam I Am,
I have been associated with Coach Hester for the past 6 years and he didn't act any different this year at the Oklahoma tournament than he has in the past. He is ALL about the kids and always very professional.
Not Sam commented at 6/28/2009 2:58:00 PM:
I have no dog in the fight, but this is good reading. I will say this---does someone HAVE to act like a behind to get kids to play hard? Or does it come from within the child? Is there no one who can coach a successful squad without antics? Maybe some people think you can win like Tom Landry as easily as you can win like Mike Ditka. If that is the case, who do you want to coach your kids? Remember the influence the coach has on the next generation of coaches. Do they need to act like Landry or like Ditka? Especially if you are on the sidelines, watching him coach your kids/grandkids?
diehardfan commented at 6/29/2009 11:55:00 PM:
Both styles work I like the tougher side of coaching and it depends on if they are coaching someone playing varsity or Jr. High.
In varsity I would call them young men the rest would be considered kids, I like Sabin over Croom Sabin is a in your face style and Croom WAS the quiet encouraging type, I know these were not mentioned but I think thier about the same example, Which style would say works from these two coaches, Look at the number of freshman that start for Alabama, You always play the best players no matter who they are! Period
If I had a kid playing I would say I want him to play for the in your face type because it is more real would and not babying the young man, then I could say that coach help mold my son into a man to face the real world. just a thought!
hk commented at 6/30/2009 12:37:00 PM:
I say the whole thing was biased against Coach Hester--it should have been an outside group voting on this--not people on the panel that were actually involved in the altercation--that is not fair--a 4 year old could see that! I say--best of luck to you Coach and I think you are a great person. You were treated unfairly and I wish you the best. I hope this trial in your life will make you a better man. I think you had what it takes to make things happen. A young man in baseball--if he has to have therapy for being called stupid--well--he has home issues --deeper stuff than the coach..
Best of luck to you--I am in your court..
RJ commented at 7/1/2009 10:37:00 PM:
The board did what they had to do. Bottom line. It may not be pretty or popular - but it was FAIR. What happened at Hernando was pathetic and it was an absolute joke. Nobody was "railroaded" as some would have you believe. It was pretty cut and dry to me as far as I understand the situation.
A "better man" would admit the fault in the situation and probably would still have the job. Keep that in mind.
Also, a 4 year old is taught responsibility. You would think that adults would see that as well.
BS commented at 7/1/2009 10:50:00 PM:
If the Hernando incident was so bad, why did Mike Halford say that it had no influence on the boards decision.
Hmmm commented at 7/2/2009 12:27:00 AM:
Maybe we should ask that question.
And while we are at it, why don't we ask why everything without a LCS tag has mysteriously DISAPPEARED from the baseball field???
I was at the meeting tonight and there were MANY MANY MANY things "missing" that used to be there. ;-) I wonder why that is. "The Kids" and "The School" are the important things right??? Give me a freakin break.
1. No. 16 Missouri sweeps MSU in softball COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Parks likes Starkville Academy's chances in playoffs HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. West Lowndes wins South State to complete sweep HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Brock, Buckner push New Hope into Round 3 HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. SA's Williams will get chance to play soccer at Meridian C.C. HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS