Amid news reports that the gunman in the Newtown, Connecticut, school shootings was a disturbed youth with social problems, coaches with young men in their charge are speaking out.
In an unscripted and emotional moment this week, Winthrop Eagles men’s basketball coach Pat Kelsey recently used some of his post-game news conference to address societal ills and ways he can be part of the solution.
"The last thing I wanna say is I'm really, really lucky," Kelsey told reporters. "I'm gonna get on an eight-hour bus ride and I'm gonna arrive in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and I'm gonna walk into my house and walk upstairs. I'm gonna walk into two pink rooms, OK, with a 5-year-old and a 4-year-old laying in that pink room, with a bunch of teddy bears laying in that room. And I'm gonna give them the biggest hug and the biggest kiss I've ever given them.
"And there's 20 families in Newtown, Connecticut, that are walking into a pink room with a bunch of teddy bears with nobody laying in those beds. And it's tragic," the coach said.
"I'm going to be an agent of change with the 13 young men I get to coach every day and the two little girls that I get to raise. But hopefully things start changing, because it's really, really disappointing," he said.
Read more: The heroes of Sandy Hook
Days before Kelsey’s impassioned plea, legendary Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim used the spotlight of his 900th win to call attention to the Newtown tragedy and gun control.
“I remember specifically a congressman from Texas saying we really need to get guns in the hands of the lady who was the principal so she can shoot this guy … I mean, do we really have people in Congress thinking that way? Is it possible?” he said on “The Dan Patrick Show.”
“I think the least thing we can do is to get assault rifles out of the country,” he said, adding that “I just don’t think we need 30-clip assault weapons, I just don’t. .. If we can’t shame them (Congress) into doing this then we can’t do much,” he said.
When asked why he would use such a stage to talk about such a controversial topic, Boeheim said: “Well, when are you going to use it? That was a good moment. There were a lot of cameras trained on me. I knew it would get attention. … I’m sure a lot of NRA people are gonna be writing me nasty emails but I’ve gotten those many times before – every time we lose a game really.”