A Lesson On Cheating

This past weekend, Sloan set up a game for me to play. She lined up three of her toy cups and placed a hair bow underneath one of them. She then had me guess which cup the bow was underneath. After a couple more rounds in that manner, we switched roles. I took a few turns hiding the bow while Sloan “looked away.”

I am sure you all know why I utilized the quotation marks in that last sentence. There were instances when Sloan tried to gain the upper hand by sneakily looking at me while I placed the bow. I debated whether to nicely remind her to stop cheating or take more drastic measures…

Sloan with the cups she used for the “bow” game.

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When I was a sophomore at Mead High School, I was in an honors humanities class. It was a challenging course and the students enrolled in it took the class seriously—including me.

One day there was a pop quiz on the previous night’s reading. We had two teachers in this class and the soft-spoken, reserved instructor of the pair, Mr. Hanson, was administering it. As he passed out the quiz he reminded us to put away all notes and packets.

As I mentioned, it was a surprise quiz and it had the chance to impact our overall grades. You could sense the anxiety and pressure in the classroom as we started on the assessment. Damn you, Mr. Hanson!

About halfway through the timed quiz, our world was rocked.

“One thing I won’t tolerate in this class is CHEATING,” Mr. Hanson bellowed. “Get out of here right now!”

The outburst had all of us stunned, and, quite frankly, a little scared. Our teacher was in a rage, a state we had never seen him close to reaching before. But what was even more shocking was who Mr. Hanson’s ire was directed at.

The student caught cheating, who I will call Glen, was even more soft-spoken than the teacher ripping into him. Small in stature and extremely quiet, no one would have ever expected Glen to have a dishonest bone in his body. What was he thinking?

As Glen hung his head and walked out the door, Mr. Hanson made a big display of crumpling up his paper and tossing it into the garbage can. If we thought it was tense in the classroom before this episode, there was no way to describe the terror in the air now. All of us kept our heads down and eyes locked on our papers as we finished the quiz.

When the time expired, Mr. Hanson tersely directed us to turn in our papers. Everyone was still on edge. We had no idea what was going to happen next. After a brief pause once he had all the quizzes, Mr. Hanson spoke.

“I am going to invite Glen back in,” Mr. Hanson said as his voice returned to its mild-mannered tenor although there was a sense of triumph mixed in.

Glen strolled back in with a wry smile on his face. Something was up.

It turned out that Glen wasn’t a cheater after all. Mr. Hanson announced that he had planned the whole charade with Glen prior to the class and that he would be receiving a 100% on his quiz. The whole demonstration was actually done to drive home a point from the previous night’s reading, I think it had something to do about ruling with fear, but to be honest I really can’t remember. Instead, I took away the general theme that cheating is bad and it can make even the calmest people erupt. I still think a lot about that moment to this day.

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So as I watched Sloan attempt to slyly look over her shoulder as I hid the bow, I considered going full out Mr. Hanson on her. But I figured I should probably wait until she is at least in kindergarten to do that. Don’t Blink.

“The Book Hog” and Cory Lux

Last night, Sloan and I got a little more than usual out of our nightly reading routine. We picked up our first book of the evening, a seemingly normal story titled “The Book Hog” by Greg Pizzoli.

We read “The Book Hog” last night. When we opened the book something caught our eye.

We opened to the inside cover and noticed something…

We noticed a sticker inside the book.

There was a Spokane County Library District sticker placed inside the book. Out of the hundreds of library books we have read together, we had never seen a sticker like it before. We zeroed in on what it said…

The sticker read “In memory of employee Cory Lux.”

In memory of employee Cory Lux. I read it aloud to Sloan and asked her what she thought it meant. Being the intelligent little girl that she is, it didn’t take her long to say, “I think he might have died.” Sidney, who was sitting right next to us, Googled Cory. In a couple seconds she had his obituary. Before we got to “The Book Hog,” we were going to do some different reading.

We learned that Cory was born in 1973 and died in 2009. I pointed out to Sloan that he was just a little older than me when he passed away. He was born in Montana and moved to Spokane a few years later. Things started to get interesting from there. He attended Farwell Elementary, the same grade school that I did. We were also both Mead High School Panthers. While at Mead, Cory was a sought after manager for the athletics teams, delivering not just water and towels but inspiration as well.

I know the photo is a little blurry but this was Cory Lux. We felt fortunate to learn about his impactful life last night.

He attended Spokane Falls Community College and, according to his obituary, received a standing ovation at his commencement ceremony when he was presented with his Associate’s Degree in Library Science. From there he started his career with the Spokane County Library District, making a positive impact on the customers and his co-workers until his death after a second battle with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.

As I read the inspirational obituary I could tell Cory faced many challenges in his life. Learning about his special character coupled with the loss that we are currently dealing with made me tear up a bit as I finished the last couple paragraphs.

When we concluded the obituary I read her “The Book Hog.” It wasn’t a long book but by the time I had finished reading it she was asleep on my shoulder. That little girl sure has learned a lot about life over the past 10 days.

Tonight I am thinking about the Lux family and praying for Cory. I am glad that Sloan, Sid, and I got to learn about his life. Don’t Blink.

Re-United With My Letterman Jacket

When I graduated high school I left the state. I went to college and then started my career. Fifteen years later I would move back to eastern Washington. Upon my return, my parents started to suggest—no, more like demand—that I take some of the stuff I left at their house as an 18-year-old teenager to my own home. We are talking about high school yearbooks, t-shirts, binders of schoolwork, etc.

This past weekend my parents “allowed me” to take off their hands another item that was literally collecting dust. I happened to drop by their neighborhood at the same time my dad was retrieving holiday decorations in the house’s crawl space. While he was deep inside he could hear me talking to my mom at the entrance to the crawl space. When my dad surfaced he was holding something other than Christmas lights.

In his hand was my yellow Mead High School letterman jacket. I had literally not seen it, let alone worn it, since a couple days before my high school graduation in 2005. I loved that coat. It was my Christmas present my sophomore year and I made sure to get plenty of wear out of it over the next 2.5 years. It fit like a glove, it screamed school spirit, and it made me feel like a stud.

I had to throw on my letterman jacket when my dad brought it out (and Sloan had to pose with me).

Of course the first thing I did was grab the jacket out of my dad’s hand and throw it on. It wasn’t as comfortable as I once remembered and it didn’t hang the same as it did in the early 2000s. But the moment that leather draped my shoulders I was transported back in time and could feel myself walking down the hallways of Mead. Ah, to be young again.

Sloan and I had just finished at the movie theater when we stopped by my parents’ house so it was just the two of us. To be funny, I wore my letterman jacket home and surprised Sid when I walked inside. She wasn’t as enthusiastic about the coat as I was.

I think Sidney could probably do without this Mead High School letterman jacket hanging around the house.

Even as my letterman jacket takes up valuable closet space at our house, I am glad to be reunited with it. I won’t be wearing it to the grocery store or anything but maybe my kids will appreciate it one of these days or ask about the pins on it. Do you still have your letterman jacket? Don’t Blink.

Gary Baskett: One-Of-A-Kind

Do you have a high school teacher you will never forget? Oh boy, I sure do! Mine happened to be a brawny man with jet-black hair who wore neon jumpsuits, sported tinted glasses, and kept a well-manicured mustache. Crazy enough, the only thing that overshadowed the unique external appearance of this larger-than-life man was the massive heart that ticked underneath his signature 1980s-era windbreakers.

It is hard to adequately quantify the accomplishments and impact of Gary Baskett. Oh, the state championships (4) and league titles (18) are easy. So are the coach of the year honors he received (3 state, 2 league) and the state champions he produced (33). But I am talking more about the ordinary young men and women he took under his tutelage over the decades. Those students he molded, much with the same care as his beautiful pottery, to become adults with strong work ethic, unbreakable mental toughness, and solid faith. These are the “accomplishments” and “impact” I am most interested in. However, although I know the number of students he had a positive influence on reaches several times into the thousands, I couldn’t give you an exact number.

But I can give you this: I was one of them.

This photo is the image of Gary Baskett that I remember from my four years at Mead High School. Mr. Baskett was a talented, one-of-a-kind individual

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I started my freshman year at Mead High School in 2001. By this time, Mr. Baskett was already a hall-of-famer. He had cemented a rock-solid legacy and was a couple years removed from his wildly successful tenure as the head track and field coach. I suppose he could have just decided to focus solely on his pottery classes during the day while enjoying his evenings and summers to himself but that wasn’t B’s style. He rather be involved in the lives and development of young student-athletes, no matter the role.

As a Panther, I played football and competed in track and field all four years. It would be generous to label me as an average athlete. I lacked natural talent, I didn’t have size, and I wasn’t blessed with speed. But that didn’t matter to Mr. Baskett. The man who groomed All-Americans and state champions went out of his way to give me one-on-one coaching throughout my time at Mead.

I can’t begin to list all the ways Mr. Baskett helped me become a better athlete while maximizing the limited potential that I had. He worked me out in the weight room with incredible intensity. He met me before football practice to work on long snapping. He taught me to run properly. He would pull me out in the middle of class to work on my shot put glide in the hallway (no kidding!). Mr. Baskett was an extremely technical coach who instilled muscle memory. His insistence on doing things the right way coupled with his natural gift to motivate helped an athlete like myself level the playing field with those who were much more talented.

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But enough about me, let me focus just for a moment on how Mr. Baskett was revered by his teams. As I mentioned, he assisted with football during my time at Mead. He was the conditioning coach but also worked with the specialists and the offensive/defensive line. B was passionate, honest, and funny. He would lead stretches and you never knew what was going to come out of his mouth. His conditioning sessions were based around technique and heart rate management much more than length and exhaustion. His pep talks weren’t unlike his stretching and conditioning regimens—unorthodox and creative. He could be tough too. Mess around or not give 100% and he might make an example out of you. But if he did, Mr. Baskett would always track you down off the field to clear the air and offer a hug.

Yes, Mr. Baskett was old school. His coaching style was from the same era as his wardrobe but it still resonated with us simply because it was so genuine and passionate. There was a generational divide by the time he was coaching us in the 2000s but it was bridged by the respect we had for him. We truly did love him.

In fact, we loved him so much that we would try to emulate him. Mr. Baskett had a very distinctive voice and a colorful way of speaking that was fun to try and replicate. Many of us tried to master it and few succeeded…but I like to think I got pretty close. Over the past 16 years since I graduated high school, Gary Baskett is the first coach that is always brought up when I connect with my old teammates. When word got out that he passed, the Spokesman-Review article on his life was shared like wildfire among the Mead football alumni family.

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For as good of a teacher and coach that Gary Baskett was, he really was an even better man. He cared so deeply about others. Many people might not know that he held a dedicated place in his heart for the special education students at Mead. Or that he was a regular at all of the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings. Or that he would volunteer his time to pull rope at JV track meets. Or that he would selflessly utilize his incredible artistic talents to beautify areas needing some colorful care. Or that he would gladly mock-up a creative t-shirt design for any cause you were looking to promote. The list is endless.

I do have one regret and it is that I never said “thank you” to Mr. Baskett after I graduated. I remember last year reaching out to my siblings and suggesting that we try to get lunch with B but it never materialized. Now it is too late to express my earthly gratitude to him face-to-face.

Although it doesn’t take the place of an in-person “thank you,” I guess this blog post might be the next best thing. On behalf of the countless Mead High School students who became better men and women because of Gary Baskett, we hope his family knows the immeasurable positive impact he had on us. His one-of-a-kind personality, epic storytelling skills, hilarious one-liners, and his deep devotion to others will be greatly missed. May God bless Gary’s soul and may his memory always shine bright at 302 W. Hastings Rd. Don’t Blink.

Stressful and Special Thursday Rundown

Good evening, friends! Let me be one of the first ones to remind you that Daylight Saving Time will begin this Sunday (March 14) so remember to move your clocks ahead an hour. Another welcome reminder of spring! Let’s get started with the Thursday Rundown…

A Stressful Day – Overwhelmed. A year ago on this date, that was how I felt. A large moving truck pulled up to our house and emptied everything. It was a reality check that we really were moving and that my days in Myrtle Beach were numbered. Navigating a move is extremely stressful and working with the moving company was one of my least favorite parts. Now 12 months removed from that day, I can confidently say all that stress and anxiety was worth it!

On March 11, 2021, this moving truck pulled up at our house in Myrtle Beach and packed up all our belongings.

Heat Warmers – These bags are awesome to warm the hands of any Coug fan on cold winter nights but the story behind them is even better. My mom recently gave me these heat warmers. She is a paraeducator in one of the Developmental Learning Center (DLC) classrooms at Mead High School. Her students not only make these heat warmers but they are the ones marketing and selling them too! It is all part of the Business Opportunity School for Success (BOSS) program. The students make bags of varying sizes and prints. Let me know if you are interested in purchasing some of your own!

The DLC students at Mead High School are making and selling heat warmers. My mom bought this pair for me.

Sloan’s Special Day – Last Saturday, Uncle Glen and Aunt Carrie treated Sloan to a day that was all about her. They arrived at our house and presented Sloan with a rose. Aunt Carrie then took her to the salon where Sloan got her first pedicure. Next was dinner at Red Robin. They then took her back to their house for ice cream. Needless to say, Sloan loved having all the attention focused on her. So thankful to have family members who go out of their way to make our kids feel special!

Aunt Carrie and Uncle Glen treated Sloan to a special day.

Frutopia – I came across this meme the other day and found myself resonating with pretty much everything depicted (except for the Pizzarias…what the heck are those?). But what especially struck a chord with me were the bottles of Frutopia in the bottom right hand corner. Seeing the drink brought me right back to middle school and the Frutopia vending machine right outside of the gym. These were the cool things to drink and forget the fact that they were all sugar because if the first three letters were “fru” they had to have been healthy! Good times.

All this stuff brought a smile to my face…especially the Frutopia.

Pete the Cat – Sloan’s favorite children’s book series is Pete the Cat. She loves that adventurous feline! Naturally, when we went to the library we checked out several of Pete’s books. Do you or your children like Pete the Cat? If so, please let me know your favorite book in the series. I would love to get it for Sloan.

Sloan loves “Pete the Cat.” Do you have a favorite book in the series?

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I believe that is it for tonight. Hope you get the chance to watch some college basketball this weekend. Don’t Blink.

My Old Thanksgiving Eve Tradition

Over a year ago, my Mead High School Class of 2005 held its 10-year high school reunion. Because of geography, I did not attend. Although mildly disappointed, I was by no means heartbroken. You see, I had already attended about four or five high school reunions before the official August 2015 one.

One year ago on this date, I wrote about my Thanksgiving traditions. Because I no longer celebrated one certain tradition at the time I wrote it, I did not include it in the blog post. Tonight I will shed a little light on that omitted tradition. For a span of about 4-5 years, I would celebrate Thanksgiving Eve the way a large portion of people in their twenties do…at a watering hole.

Anyone in the bar industry will tell you that Thanksgiving Eve is one of the busiest nights of the year. This is fueled by a few things:
1. The next day is a holiday for many.
2. People need a break from family.
3. It is a joyful time of the year.

However, the driving force behind big Thanksgiving Eve nights is the fact that people come back home to their old stomping grounds. Students and young professionals return to the place they grew up in because most of the time their families are still rooted there.

Ecstatic at returning home and feeling good about the prospect of hanging with old friends, many people will devote some of their time to going out on Thanksgiving Eve. For a few years, this was me.

I would hit up a place in north Spokane called Fizzie Mulligans. A line would be out the door, patrons would be shoulder to shoulder inside, and a loud band would drown out almost all conversation. However, I still made it a priority to show up on more than one Turkey Day Eves.

My brother and I on Thanksgiving Eve 2010 inside Fizzie Mulligans.

My brother and I on Thanksgiving Eve 2010 inside Fizzie Mulligans.

As someone who hates the above conditions, why would I do this? Well it was to see people of course! It wasn’t like I went there alone. I would go with a group of my close friends from high school or my brother or sister (on one occasion all three of us went together). From there we would join the masses and run into everyone from old classmates to old teammates to even old teachers. With a carefree attitude brought on by the holiday season and a drink or two, it was actually always a great time.

Now I know there is a high percentage of people out there who become repulsed at the thought of seeing people from high school and/or their childhood. Obviously, these folks stay home on Thanksgiving Eve. But I wasn’t like that. I had an interest in how my friends and acquaintances from Mead were doing. The night always brought with it a little bit of excitement.

Since I no longer take part in the Thanksgiving Eve tradition, do I miss it? Not really. First off, I am too old for it. Second, with social media as dominating as it is in society these days, I pretty much already know what everyone is doing. So even if 3,000 miles didn’t separate me from my hometown, I still wouldn’t venture out on Thanksgiving Eve. However, I understand the youngsters who do. To all who go out tonight, have fun and be safe. Don’t Blink.

My Mom’s First Day of School

Much to the chagrin of my teacher wife and everyone else starting their fourth week of school here in South Carolina, the district I attended in Spokane will hold its FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL today. This is not an oddity or a one year thing. School always starts the day after Labor Day in the Mead School District.

Although the three of us Reser kids have long since graduated from Mead High School, there is still a Reser in the building. My mom began her 15th year working at Mead this morning. Although not a principal, teacher, or coach, she still holds a very valuable position at the high school. If you know enough about an education system to immediately understand what my mom does when I say the word “paraeducator” then good for you! However, if you are like most of us, a quick explanation is necessary.

A paraeducator is an individual who assists in a classroom. He or she usually serves as an aid for the actual teacher. The individual will teach small groups, accompany the class to specialist periods (such as PE), do one-on-one work, give backup to the teacher, and perform a myriad of other tasks.

So yes, my mom is a paraeducator. But there is one more thing I should add: She is a paraeducator in a special education classroom.

It is true, my mom is a superhero! This was her a few years ago right before the Special Olympics for the class my mom works in. Today she begins her 15th year at Mead High School.

It is true, my mom is a superhero! This was her a few years ago right before the Special Olympics for the class my mom works in. Today she begins her 15th year at Mead High School.

For 15 years my mom has helped make the days of high school special needs students a little brighter. She has cared for them and taught them day in and day out. She has used the patience and warmth she bestowed on the three of us kids growing up in the same way with the students in her classroom.

My mom’s job is not easy by any means. Believe me, she doesn’t do it for the pay. Rather, she does it because she has an amazingly kind heart and the desire to make a difference.

You can probably gather that my mom is good at her job. But do you want proof? All you have to do is look at her biggest admirers. On my few trips back home, it never fails that a past parent will come up to her at the grocery store to strike up a conversation. Their appreciation always shines through and it is incredibly apparent that they hold inside themselves a large amount of gratitude for the warmth my mom gave their son or daughter.

I hope you have the best school year yet, mom. Please know that our family is so proud of you. Don’t Blink.

Missing My Reunion!

It almost turned into a disaster. Several months back, a well-intentioned person (or people, I really don’t know), started a Facebook group to discuss plans for a high school class reunion. While the goal was to brainstorm and nail down dates for a possible reunion in the summer, some “class clowns” had other ideas. A crude joke or two was posted, draining the enthusiasm and support that initially existed from the page. However, true to the spirit of Mead Panthers, a couple motivated individuals swooped in and rallied support while setting up a reunion itinerary.

Next month my high school class will hold its 10-year reunion. The Mead High School Class of 2005 will host your typical agenda for such an occasion; an informal evening cocktail party, a family opportunity in a park, and a formal dinner to cap things off. For me, I am trying to figure out what I am more upset about…the fact that it has been 10 years or the reality that I will not be able to attend.

Sure, it seems like I have been out of high school for a long time but a decade? I don’t think the title of my blog could describe my thoughts on that any better. I just hold close to my heart that I am still in my twenties!

When it comes to my absence from my 10-year reunion I am bummed. I had a great high school experience and met mostly good people. I would love to see where all my former classmates are at in their lives today. But time off work is precious and flying across the country and back twice in the span of 30 days isn’t cost effective…especially when you are planning a wedding. With that said, while it is with regret that I won’t be attending, it is not like I am crying my eyes out.

You see, I visited Spokane for almost two great weeks recently. It just so happened that I ran into several of my high school friends randomly, whether it was during Hoopfest or some other chance occurrence. I also got to sit down with some of my high school football teammates, people who I consider myself much closer to than many of the students I am associated with just based off of my class year. And, although a bit embarrassed to admit it, during my time at home I went to the old Mead High School track to work out. So while I might miss the official reunion dates in early August, I feel like I already got my own mini reunion.

To all my fellow 2005 Panther grads, I hope you have a great time participating in the reunion activities. I will make sure to keep an eye on the Facebook page for all the photos uploaded during the fun. Still Alive 2005. Don’t Blink.

On Carty’s Terms

This past Monday evening, Sean Carty stood up in front of parents at an information meeting and announced his resignation as head football coach at Mead High School. To some who first heard the news, the reaction was shock. Why would someone who fought so admirably to retain his job turn around and walk away? Why would someone who put his name and his reputation on the line to save the post he held for 14 years step down? Why would someone who pulled off one of the greatest victories ever over parent interference and entitlement call it quits? The answer is easy:

This was never about Sean Carty.

This was about securing the confidence of coaches in the district who feared they would have to work according to an outrageous and flawed precedent. This was about preventing parents from thinking they could hire an attorney, make false claims, and ruin someone’s life. This was about retaining the dignity of the Mead community, a community that had its reputation suffer greatly when the initial decision was made. It just so happened that the burden to make things right fell on the shoulders of Sean Carty.

Sean Carty resigned as head football coach at Mead High School on Monday. His leadership will be missed.

Sean Carty resigned as head football coach at Mead High School on Monday. His leadership will be missed.

For six turbulent months starting with the investigation and ending with Coach Carty’s reinstatement, the man went through hell. However, even though Sean admits that his “health suffered drastically” throughout the ordeal, he kept fighting until the victorious end because simply it was the right thing to do. He fought so the next amazing coach victimized by delusional parents wouldn’t suffer what he endured, he fought so the district that many of us grew up in wouldn’t become a joke.

After engineering a major win for the Mead community, Carty was finally in a position to do what he felt best for him and his loved ones. Once the parents were silenced and the decision reversed, he decided to step away under his own power and on his own terms.

“The pressure stopped and that is when I felt I could clear my head and finally do what was right for my family and I,” Carty told me last night.

With the crusade behind him and a strong message sent, his family decided that football could go on the back burner for a little bit. Of course, because of the person Sean Carty is, he didn’t take the decision lightly.

“This decision was difficult because I didn’t want to let anyone down,” Carty remarked while once again offering up heaps of gratitude to the community for the tremendous support throughout the trying months.

Carty assured me that neither the district nor parents put pressure on him to resign. Despite a quote from a parent suggesting otherwise in the local newspaper (which he erroneously attributed to the wrong historical figure), defeated moms and dads played no factor. I recognize that I have been critical of this group so let me say that I do appreciate their respect of the reversed decision. Bottom line, you can take it to the bank that Coach Carty’s call to step away wasn’t influenced by anything or anyone besides Sean and his family.

Also, Sean asked for the clarification of one thing. In the Spokesman-Review article that covered his resignation, it mentioned that an improvement plan was completed Friday. In reality, that plan, according to Carty, was “not even a document yet.” In fact, there had only been a loose discussion on what any such document would stipulate. He called this piece of the reinstatement process “no big deal” and added that it “had zero to do with my decision.”

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The legacy of Sean Carty during his tenure as head football coach at Mead High School is twofold. The first component will be his success working with students. He will be remembered as a brilliant coach who ran a clean program that produced great individuals. He will be remembered for his four Greater Spokane League Championships and solid win-loss record over a 14-year-span. The tradition, passion, and integrity he brought to Mead football will resonate within the program for a long time.

Of course the battle he fought over the past six months will serve as the second component of his legacy. As I have already talked about what his resiliency meant during this period, let me just say this: A lot of district coaches, community members, and Mead football alumni will be walking up to Sean Carty and shaking his hand for a long time to come.

In the end, Sean Carty got his job and reputation back. However, it took him a couple extra weeks to finally realize what he needed to do to get his life back. He made that decision on Monday night. Just as the community can now move on, so can Sean.

“I am very happy right now and at peace,” a relieved Carty breathed.

You deserve it, Coach. Don’t Blink.

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Previous Posts About Sean Carty’s Ordeal:
Feeling Bad for Coach Carty
The Triumph of Sean Carty and the Community

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The Triumph of Sean Carty and the Community

It just usually doesn’t turn out this way.

Many times when an organization makes a personnel decision, especially an educational body, the decision stands. Although a full line of appeals await, many times it is fruitless. Even in this recent Mead High School case where the verdict was so flawed and so knee-jerk, the powers that be usually don’t budge. In fact, in my initial blog post addressing the non-renewal of the head football coach’s contract, I likened the chances of a reversal to the completion of a Hail Mary. I guess I didn’t give full consideration to the fact that they were dealing with Sean Carty.

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When I received word last night that the Mead School District had struck down the principal’s decision and reinstated Carty to his head coach position, I was elated. I typed out an all-caps text message laced with question marks and exclamation points and sent it to the man himself. Carty responded in the best way possible.

Could this have been more perfect?

Could this have been more perfect?

Yesterday at around 3 p.m., the superintendent informed Carty in-person that the job he had held with honor, integrity, and success for 14 years was still his. By 3:30 p.m. he was strategizing on how he would bring the team, all players and all parents included, closer together than ever before. Think about that for one second. If you had a small group of people who literally made your life hell for six months and did all they could to take away your passion, wouldn’t you want to rub your vindication in their faces? Not Carty. He is not dwelling on the lies and the smear campaign. In fact, he probably wouldn’t even address it if you asked him. Sean says he is all about uniting the team and that the actions of a few adults is “water under the bridge.”

I want to take Carty’s lead and not dwell on the parents. Rather, I would much rather focus on Coach Carty’s resiliency. Or I would much rather focus on the humility of the Mead School District to correct the mistake of one of its administrators. Or I would much rather focus on the savvy and intelligence of the three men who helped represent Carty through the appeals process…Don Beloved, Paul Kautzman, and David Whitehead. Or I would much rather focus on the patience of the assistant coaches who also battled through this storm without contracts. Or I would much rather focus on the strength of Carty’s wife and two daughters who had to witness the injustice.

Sean Carty would like to focus on the community. Both in our texts last night and a brief call this morning, he expressed his gratitude to the people of Mead and elsewhere who supported him. Former players, current players, athletes, non-athletes, parents, staff, and so many other groups immediately came to his defense. It was a tough time but the overwhelming support he was given made a huge difference. He has his job and his reputation back but Carty told me those wins pale in comparison to something else:

“Just knowing that I had a positive impact and that people believed in me is victory enough.”

I would also like to express my gratitude to the community as well. I was so impressed with all the people who contacted me wanting to do anything they could to help out. Some of these people I had not talked to in years, most I had never talked to in my life. Coach Carty stood up for what was right and fought this. But the collaborative effort of the community gave him that extra boost he needed. Social media is extremely powerful.

The sun shined down a little brighter off the blue track that circles the football field at Mead High School this morning. Those same rays also radiated off the big gold rock that greets each player before practice. Thankfully, the school will now have to wait a little longer until they name it after Sean Carty. All is right in Panther Land again, the good of high school athletics triumphed over the bad. Don’t Blink.