Winthrop Eagles coach Pat Kelsey was asked to speak on his team’s Tuesday night loss to Ohio State. Kelsey instead took the opportunity to make an impassioned speech, calling for change in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings last week.
The college basketball team played Ohio, ranked number four in the nation. Instead of focusing on the loss, Kelsey claimed, “I am 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.”
Kelsey’s heartfelt speech was inspired by the power of the microphone:
“This has to be a time for change. And I know this microphone’s powerful right now, because we’re playing the (seventh)-best team in the country. I’m not going to have a microphone like this the rest of the year, maybe the rest of my life.”
The coach went on to talk about his two little girls, noting that there are parents in Newtown, Connecticut, who have lost their precious children.
“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 .. 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.”
Kelsey notes that his team’s opponent put him in the unique position of being on the national stage, and he was going to take the opportunity to make a call for change in America’s government. The college coach noted that while he did not vote for Obama in the recent election, he acknowledged, “he’s my president now. He’s my leader.”
The Cincinnati native and Xavier alumni called on Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner to “mend their differences” and do “whatever was necessary” to prevent another such massacre.
“I don’t know what needs to be done,” Kelsey said. “I’m not smart enough to know what needs to be done. I know this country’s got issues. Is it a gun issue? Is it a mental illness issue? Or is it a society that has lost the fact — the understanding — that decent human values are important?”
He continued, “I need [Obama] to step up. Mr. Boehner, the Speaker of the House, he’s a Xavier guy, he’s a Cincinnati guy. He needs to step up. Parents, teachers, rabbis, priests, coaches, everybody needs to step up.”
He concluded by saying, “I’m proud to grow up American. I’m proud to say I’m part of the greatest country ever. And that’s got to stay that way. And it’ll stay that way if we change.
“But we’ve got to change.”
What do you think of Kelsey’s comments regarding the Sandy Hook killings?