Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Replacing Kneeland as coach was never a consideration by the Board of Education, said President James Reineke.
”He’s a class act,” Reineke said.
Kneeland said the Mingo Bay tournament is a trip the baseball team has taken for the past 13 years. It’s a way for the players to get in a few games before the season starts, something that can be a challenge for local teams in April. Because of the timing of the event, usually during spring break, families often travel with the team as sort of a vacation.
So, players aren’t supervised entirely by the team. The players were arrested the night of April 2 for shoplifting sunglasses, ranging in value from $130 to $300, from the Sunglass Hut on the Broadway at the Beach strip in Myrtle Beach. The players weren’t with family while the shoplifting took place.
Kneeland had received a call at about 11:30 p.m. concerning the arrest. He thought it was an April Fool’s joke.
”It broke my heart,” he said.
A judge sentenced the group to community service in Newfane. Kneeland said the judge told the kids they had made a mistake, but the showing of support from family members made an impression.
”He said, ‘you’re great kids, you did something stupid, you’ll learn something from this,’” Kneeland said.
Tibbetts said the seven students wrote apology letters to administration and school board members. While in South Carolina, the seven apologized to Kneeland and their parents.
“They have apologized profusely,” the superintendent said.
To field a team for those six games, junior varsity players will be called up to play for the varsity squad. That situation will be closely monitored, Tibbetts said, to make sure JV players are not completely overwhelmed.
Under Section VI rules, a student athlete can play up to 18 games a season between the varsity and junior varsity levels. Four players who were cut from the junior varsity team will be called back to help fill out the JV roster. But they’ll need five practices before they can play, Athletic Director Doug Ames said.