Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hopkinsville Area Athletic Woes

As a coach you learn to take the bad times with the good times. In an area like Hopkinsville with all its social, racial and ethnic diversity you know whether you are a coach or a teacher there are going to many hurdles with dealing with students and athletes.

Coaches not just in Hopkinsville but everywhere spend as much time helping raise kids as they do coaching. Whether it be Hopkinsville HS, Christian Co. HS, University Heights or Fort Campbell, coaches truly believe that athletics is a good tool for helping get kids off the streets, keeping them in school, helping them grow socially & mentally, and above all giving them an opportunity to better themselves.

In recent weeks a former Mr. Kentucky Football and a former Miss Kentucky Basketball have all been in trouble. Curtis Pulley was excused from UK's Football team and is now being considered a fugitive whereas a bench warrant was issued this morning for his arrest for failure to appear. Arnika Brown, a member of Western Kentucky University's Women's Basketball team and the OVC Freshman of the Year, was arraigned in Christian County yesterday for 16 felony counts of using counterfeit money to go on a shopping spree. Arnika Brown is an alumni of Christian Co. HS while Pulley graduated from Hopkinsville HS.

If this was not enough, a few months ago former Hopkinsville QB, Chris Thomas was arrested at Austin Peay State University in a drug bust that was reported as the largest in APSU's history. Thomas had drugs, money and a gun in his dorm room. He had a private room. Another Hopkinsville Player Gabe Ladson was charged with rape on school property. While the issue of rape is in question the issue of her being a minor and having sex on school property is not. Ladson's brother Blake is a class act and a former Hopkinsville QB who went on to West Virginia and Western Kentucky University. Blake graduated and is working on a masters degree in Tennessee.

Usually you can count on a couple of kids doing something dumb every year but the last few months for the Hopkinsville Community has damaged our pride and our reputation. No one likes the bad publicity but maybe one thing has come out of this- We have many concerns among our youth and the latest scandals have forced coaches, teachers, administrators and community leaders to take a step back and re-evaluate what were doing and what we need to be doing.

For me one thing is for sure. We have had more successes than failures and we need to do a better job of reminding kids and propping up those athletes up who succeeded on and off the field regardless of the accolades they received in High School. The Hopkinsville - Christian County Community has extended itself time and time again to help these athletes rebound for a second and third chance only for it to end badly for most of them.

Coaches like to say kids are not bad but sometimes they do bad things. I have to still believe in that but I think we have to look for some better ways and new solutions when it comes to athletics and making kids super hero's as teenagers.

1 comment:

Beth said...

This is so sad but something that we have been talking about in the legal community up here in the hills of Maine. One of our large school districts just made a policy that a kid adjudicated of any offense under the juvenile or criminal code could not play sports--this includes offenses that would be misdemeanors if they were in adult court. I think the effect is going to be severe. Sports is sometimes the only thing that keeps certain kids in school.