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Kingsley Football Coach Addresses Racist Social Media Incident

A Kingsley Area Schools football player has been indefinitely suspended and an investigation opened after racist content encouraging violence against African-Americans was shared in a student Snapchat group.

Football Coach Tim Wooer sent a letter to parents and also posted on Facebook this weekend responding to the incident. His letter, which explains what occurred and how the school is responding, is reposted here in its entirety:

“Kingsley Football Family: Today I felt the need to address a significant and horrific error in judgement by at least one of our varsity players. Each year our varsity players create their own ‘group chat,’ which I believe for the most part to be an excellent way to communicate, motivate, and build leadership without the prodding of coaches. This past weekend, our team traveled to Muskegon to play various Muskegon area schools in a 7-on-7 pass scrimmage. Two of the teams in which we competed against had African-American athletes. We had zero issues with any of the African-American schools involved. Both schools were classy and well coached. Upon return, it was brought to my attention (Wednesday, July 14) via Facebook of an incredibly inappropriate post in the group chat containing racial slurs and statements of violence against African-Americans. Within minutes of receiving this information, I notified our superintendent, principal, and athletic director. An investigation is currently underway. At this time, at least one player has been suspended indefinitely and the investigation is ongoing. An athletic council will meet sometime early next week to discuss future discipline of the individual or individuals involved.

I would hope that those associated with Kingsley Football, know that character, work ethic, class, community service, and discipline are staples of our program. The Kingsley Football Family has been a common theme to unite our community for years. A tradition. The content of this shared message within our program represents the opposite of everything we stand for as a program, school, and community. This behavior is NOT tolerated and WILL NOT be tolerated. I’m hurting. I’m angry. I feel incredible empathy and concern for those who have been hurt. Although our staff teaches character on nearly a daily basis during our season, it is obvious that we have fallen short in the education of student-athletes on issues related to racism and violence. We will use this event as a teachable moment to educate our athletes on leadership, compassion, and equality.

In closing, please trust the process and don’t lose faith in our youth. We need your help to teach and lead by example. Developing young men is a process. This will be a painful process for all parties involved, but we must persevere and persevere doing it the right way. No shortcuts. Thank you for your time and support. If you have any further questions or concerns regarding this topic, please feel free to reach out. -Coach Wooer”

The racist content that was shared in the student group assigned point values to spitting on, punching, lynching, and committing other acts of violence against African-Americans, using the N-word throughout the post. Wooer said in a Facebook post Saturday on the Kingsley Stag Football account that the football program “hit an all-time low this past week.” He said that while he didn’t want to “engage in a debate on a social media platform,” he wanted to publicly share the letter sent to parents and reassure the community that racist conduct was “not tolerated” in the football program or at Kingsley Area Schools. “If you have further facts involving the incident, we ask you to please communicate with our administrative team at Kingsley Area Schools,” he wrote.

The incident follows a recent similar case at Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) in which multiple students were investigated both by the school district and the local prosecutor for participating in a racist Snapchat thread.

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