I want to thank Mr. LaLonde for shedding light on the most recent controversy at Lely High School. I feel the need to add a few clarifications and perhaps share some insight concerning this situation.
My son Matthew is one of the players dismissed from the team. He is not perfect. He made a mistake, a bad choice. He is also a very good kid. He is well grounded, self motivated, dedicated, and a respectful young man, but still a 17 year old kid. I am proud of who and what he is and feel fortunate and blessed to have such a son.
The boys admittedly made a very bad choice. They did not “skip” as indicated by Mr. Fairbanks, but were out of area between classes. My son did have a lighter which he got from his car for another individual to use. He himself did not smoke. He does not smoke. In a sense, this fact is not an issue as the boys were dismissed from the team for walking off of the practice field after being taunted by an assistant coach. The boys were completing their punishment as instructed by the head coach when the assistant coach decided to rub it in a little. They left the field rather than engage in a verbal exchange with an authority figure.
They took the high road and have paid dearly for it. The coach in question admitted to me the next day that he “probably shouldn’t have said what he did and wished he hadn’t.” The boys met with the head coach the next school day and apologized for walking off the field and indicated that they did so (at the time they were both physically and emotionally drained), rather than get into it with the assistant coach. The coach’s response was that he would rather they had cussed him out than walk off the field. We did not raise our son that way and are appalled that this is the attitude held by a coach/teacher in our school district.
Respect is a character trait that is highly regarded. It is expected in school and should be modeled by mentors to our children.
Mr. Fairbanks states that he “does not consider the coaches remarks to be a major part of the suspension.” He is wrong. In fact he told me that the coach in question has been “dealt with sternly,” although he wouldn’t elaborate. He also states that “the statement, though not right, was mild in comparison to what I have heard over my many years of education.” Perhaps so, I don’t know what Mr. Fairbanks has heard over the years and this has nothing to do with the situation at hand.
For the adults involved, mistakes were made, principles were compromised, hopefully lessons were learned, and life goes on. For the two youths involved, they made a mistake and have paid dearly for it, their hopes and aspirations dashed. I am afraid the lesson they have learned is how unfair life can be. The same people who teach the concept of justice, don’t recognize it when it’s staring them in the face.
Matthew watched the Coconut Bowl last night from the bleachers. He was there with my wife and I as an 8th grader four years ago, the last time Lely won. He told me then that he was going to play football at Lely, a kid’s dream. He did live that dream for three and a half seasons. Incidentally, there was another man watching the game from the “cheap seats.” Former head coach Steve Pricer, who was also dealt an unjust and career ending condemnation from the administration at Lely High School after over 30 years of dedication to its football program and student athletics. But that is another story, and it neither is over.