Parents deserve some answers

Jeff Gilliland

Jeff Gilliland

I heard and reported some concerning news this week at a Hillsboro City Schools Board of Education meeting about a teenager who thought he had made the freshman basketball team, and even told his family about it, only to find out two days later he was being cut.

I have only heard one side of the story, and there is no doubt another side which I hope to look into further next week. But Rodney Captain, the father of the freshman basketball player who was cut, said at the school board meeting that he has talked to five school staff members and has yet to receive an answer about what happened.

From what I could gather at the meeting from listening to Rodney, his wife Jaymara, and another relative, this is the scenario: As an eighth-grader a year ago their son was cut. They said they had no problem with that because 15 or 20 kids tried out and their son needed to work on his skills.

This year 13 kids went out for the Hillsboro freshman basketball team. One of them came up ineligible. That left 12 kids – the number the majority of freshmen, reserve and varsity squads keep on their roster.

After a Saturday practice, which was evidently the last day of conditioning/tryouts, a coach or coaches told the kids to head to the locker room, where they would be informed if anyone was going to be cut. No one received word that they had been cut.

When the team showed up for practice two days later on a Monday, they were told “unannounced” tryouts were being held. According to one person at the school board meeting, sometime over the weekend another student or two decided they wanted to play. At least one freshman at that Monday practice had only shown up for one day of conditioning. The Captains’ son showed up every day.

The reserve and varsity teams determined cuts on the aforementioned Saturday.

Over the weekend, between the two practices, the Captains’ son told his parents he made the team. They told other family members. He had practiced long and hard, and although his game still needed some work, he thought he was on the team.

After the Monday practice, the young man was told he had not made the team.

On top of all that, only 26 to 27 players combined went out for Hillsboro’s freshman, reserve and varsity basketball teams this year. Since the optimum number is at least 36, it is more than likely that some freshmen will be playing all or part of the time on the reserve team, maybe even the varsity. Which means there would possibly be more positions open on the freshman team.

That is all according to what I heard at the meeting.

How many times, I wondered, have I seen youngsters who were not so good in their younger years, but blossomed into standouts by their junior or senior years. That could very well be the case in this situation because, trust me, the young man in question comes from very strong athletic genes.

And, I thought, isn’t the point of high school athletics to expose as many kids as possible to all the extra life lessons that athletics teach?

It should be pointed out that the Captains are black. It should also be pointed out that Rodney Captain is a Hillsboro High School graduate and has served the Hillsboro School Distirct well for 15 years as a football and basketball coach.

Now, not all of what you’ve read so far may be fact. It comes from one side. And like I said earlier, there is surely another side to the story, which I will follow up on next week.

But, if what the Captains said at the meeting is accurate – and I have no reason to doubt that it was – someone has some explaining to do.

I would not say that I know Rodney Captain well, but I know him well enough. I covered his games as a reporter when he played high school athletics. My sons played high school football under his guidance. I have officiated softball games he played in, watched him raise his sons, officiated basketball games with him, and officiated games he was coaching.

Through it all he has never been anything but respectful and a pleasure to be around. As an official he is calm and collected, and if he was ever rattled, I could never tell. As a coach he is patient and considerate, not one given to yelling at officials or his players. As a parent, he is a role model. The same goes for his wife on that last account.

And from everything I’ve witnessed, which includes the Captains’ kids playing with my grandson, the boys are following the example set by their parents.

Which is why I was left scratching my head after what I heard at this week’s school board meeting.

I mean, here you have a basketball program that has struggled mightily the last couple years. They are short on players. So why would someone let a kid believe he had made the team, then tell him at the next practice that he had not?

The school board did not respond to the Captains’ questions at this week’s meeting. They rarely do. Their policy is to respond in writing within 10 days of the meeting.

The school board rarely gets involved in such matters. They put people in place – from coaches, to athletic directors, to principals, to the superintendent – to handle these kinds of problems.

But from everything I’ve heard to this point, this situation has not been handled properly.

I hope that changes. I hope someone corrects what appears to be a wrong. Or, if no changes are made, I hope someone steps up and fully explains the situation.

I’m trusting the school board to make sure that all happens.

Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.

Jeff Gilliland Gilliland