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Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014

Rumors of coach losing job hard to comprehend

Friday, March 23, 2012

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After every high school basketball season there always are rumors of coaches leaving and getting fired for one reason or another. So I shouldn't be surprised when I hear rumors involving local coaches, but one this year has left me shocked.

For the last few weeks a rumor has been building that Kenyon Wright, head coach at Scott County Central, was not wanted back. A Facebook page entitled "Save Coach Kenyon Wright's Job @SCC" was even created in response to the rumors.

Officials aren't talking but it seems pretty clear that Wright is on shaky ground at Scott Central, but why? In three seasons at the helm of the Braves, Wright has an 80-14 record and has won three state championships. That's right, three state titles in three years. I think just about every other school in the state, boys or girls, would like those results and be happy with their coach. But apparently not Scott Central.

Now I don't know Coach Wright personally and the only dealings I have had with him are a couple interviews after games since he became the head coach. So I don't know what goes on behind closed doors, but what I do know about him is the product he puts on the floor, and that is fairly impressive.

His first two seasons as the Braves head coach the team was stacked with talent, headlined by none other than Otto Porter, who is arguably one of the best players to ever come out of Southeast Missouri, not just Scott County Central. The Braves won back-to-back state titles without breaking a sweat, but still, I thought Wright did a good job coaching talented teams and keeping them focused on their goals.

This year, very few people thought Scott Central would return to Columbia, let alone win their fourth-consecutive championship and Wright's third straight. The Braves had a few more losses but when districts rolled around they were prepared and focused and won the title without a player that stood over six foot.

But it was more than just the winning that impressed me. I see plenty of games each winter and frankly I am tired of seeing kids showboating after hitting big shots or making a scene as the starting lineups are introduced. There is none of that at Scott Central. The Braves play hard when they are on the floor with no showboating, the way the game should be played.

So if they win and players play hard and act right, then why would Wright be asked to leave? If you believe the rumor mill it is because they want a "Scott Central guy" coaching the Braves. I seriously hope that isn't the truth because that is the most ridiculous reasoning I have ever heard.

Wright, a Bell City graduate, isn't dressing the team in Bell City colors. I'm sure he isn't secretly wanting them to lose when they play the Cubs and Scott Central officials knew where he was from when he was hired in the first place. The whole notion that you have to be from that area to understand the kids is beyond laughable. Scott Central has one tradition and that is winning and I think Wright has lived up to that. Not to mention the last two Scott Central grads who coached the Braves both had short and turbulent tenures. And wasn't legendary coach Ronnie Cookson from Puxico?

Marcus Timmons, a former standout at Scott Central, has made no secret he is interested in coaching the Braves, and is even quoted in a Standard Democrat story in January saying "This would be the perfect spot for me, right here," speaking of Ronnie Cookson Gymnasium and Scott Central. "You have to start somewhere. This area is my roots and this is where I started from. Getting into this would be great. If the door was open, I would take it."

Another rumor out there is the usual one where a coach isn't liked by a certain group of parents. Every coach at every school has to deal with this. There will always be those parents who think their child is the next Michael Jordan, only if they could dribble three times without kicking the ball. Kids quit because they don't get to play or parents throw a fit because their kid doesn't get every single minute of playing time.

But look at how the Scott Central kids embraced Wright after winning the state title. I failed to see any dislike toward the young coach, only happiness, elation and respect.

Maybe there are real reasons why Wright's job is in jeopardy but I haven't heard them and nobody else I have talked to has either. Maybe it is just a rumor started by one person and there isn't any substance behind it. I hope so, but where there is smoke there is almost always fire.

I just hope Scott Central officials look long and hard at what they are doing because what kind of image do you give your school by getting rid of a coach with three state titles in three years? It certainly isn't a good one.