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To begin the night, the meeting room for the Highland Community School Board was packed with parents and students alike amidst rumors that head boys’ basketball coach Marcus Hall may be leaving the program.
Senior Trent Lasek overcame his lack of comfort speaking in public and stood up to defend his coach on multiple fronts.
“There is not one person I have met that would sacrifice their time more than our coach,” he said. “I have known him since my seventh grade year and he has always been willing to sacrifice time with his family in order to meet me at the gym.”
He refuted the idea that Hall only cared about winning by telling those present that the team had to do 10 pushups every time someone swore, rejected the idea that he didn’t get along with custodians based on a conversation he had with one of the custodial staff, and also rejected the idea that he ever attacked an official.
In the latter case, he pointed to the fact that he sometimes wished coach was more vocal in fighting for calls and the fact that Lasek was benched for the first quarter of a game versus Wapello after being warned about complaining about calls.
Parent Ryan Burton also stood up to defend Hall on multiple fronts. He praised Hall for his outstanding leadership with the young talent.
“You should see his speech about the banquet. That is the most inspirational speeches you will ever see,” Burton said, getting emotional. “That guy knew everything about every kid on that team. He had a story for them. Some kids don’t get the recognition they deserve, but he gave it to them that night.”
He also said no parent had issues with Hall, to his knowledge, and praised his focus on education, the excitement he has brought back to the program. He also urged that if the issue was based on crossed wires with the administration, Hall be given guidance on what the administration expects.
Parent Angie Colbert also defended his time with all players. She said, despite the fact that her son was on the bench for most of the season, she can see the effect Hall has had on him.
“When my son comes home and says that this coach motivates him and is the most positive person he’s ever met, that’s the coach I want for my child,” she said,
After all the support, Liz Hall also stood up to defend her nephew, she said he had rejected several opportunities to interview with area schools, but refused because he remembered having a different coach all four years at Highland. Liz Hall also revealed her message to her son Tucker about the situation.
“No matter what you do, you be like Marcus. You be respectful, you be honest, you be the person he taught you to be,” she said.
During the time for council comments, Nate Robinson board member thanked all those who came there to speak.
“What I see from that group of young men is a sense of responsibility, a sense of respect, and most importantly a sense of comradery because life is the big team sport,” he said.
“To me, it feels like a mistake has been made, I’ll be the first one to tell you that. I don’t know why, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s not going to stop us from trying to do what’s best for your children,” Robinson said.
Armstrong stated that no decision had been made yet concerning his position and told those in attendance “your voices have been heard.”