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Lincoln High School Basketball Coaches

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Georgia Fortunato Superintendent of Schools 1624 Lonsdale Avenue Lincoln, RI 02865 Dear Superintendent Ms. Fortunato, High school basketball is about kids displaying teamwork, overcoming challenges, trusting in each other, and having fun doing it. Unfortunately, LHS basketball does not foster such a culture. Over the last two years the players claim to be the targets of harsh and derogatory criticism by Coach Crooks. Our players have complained about his inconsistency in holding everyone accountable or showing favoritism as well as, verbally abusing the players. This is not a healthy environment for young adults. The end result is poor team chemistry and poor records. The players argue with each other during games. An attitude of what’s the difference we are only going to lose is pervasive. We have spoken to Coach Crooks directly about his comments made to our sons. We have met with Principal McNamara, Coach Crooks, Coach Kelly and Athletic Director Feinberg to share the boys’ concerns with his coaching. The boys courageously took the steps to meet directly with Principal McNamara to express their displeasure playing basketball for Coach Crooks. The following are the most important problems: • In front of the team Coach Crooks refers one of our boys is mentally unstable or too fragile to play. • Coach Crooks approached the Captain of the team asking him if the team thinks he plays favorites. The boy was afraid to answer him with the truth. Many of the kids are verbally scared of coach Crooks • Coach Crooks made a comment regarding a parent to the team. Even when the parent explained to the coach why the player had to be seen by the doctor. • In front of the team Coach Crooks repeatedly in practices says to one of the boys: “you are lucky you play for LHS because you are not good enough to play high school basketball for any other team in RI. Coach denies it in a meeting. However, we know in a game this December Coach Crooks calls a timeout to repeat it to this boy. Coach justifies his behavior as “coaching up”. • Coach Crooks targets certain boys for criticism in games and practices. He does not hold all the boys to the same level of accountability. He plays favorites. • In a game in which we were losing he takes a player out, than he throws the Drawing board backwards at the player. • Athletic Director Feinberg states it is his job to protect his coaches. Parents should not be talking to coaches about issues. We think it is everyone’s job to protect our kids. • Coach Crooks frequently infers to a lack of talent in Lincoln High School as the main reason for his record. Fact is no one wants to play for him. LHS basketball was lucky to field 15 players for JV and Varsity. There are close to 500 boys in LHS. This years’ team has 6 boys that played AAU basketball at a highly competitive level all over New England. There are not many RI high school teams that can say that. • Parks and Recreation has more kids try out than Coach Crook’s Lincoln Basketball team simply because he is not appealing to play for. • Coach Crooks has made multiple seniors debate weather or not to play there senior year simply because they have had enough of his criticisms and insults. • He sat a star player on his birthday for an incident on twitter that was blown way out of proportion on a must win game in order to make playoffs. Coach Crooks denies that he knew it was his birthday, when the players sang Happy Birthday in front of the him. • He only played the seniors 5 minuets on senior night. Juniors and a sophomore played more in a pointless game. While their classmates were in the stands chanting, put the seniors in and he still would not. How do you think that makes the seniors feel? Coach Crooks seems surprised by all of these problems, and states that he maintains an open door policy to make it comfortable for the kids to speak to him. If so why are players after three years finally going to Principal McNamara with complaints? Why is the team captain afraid to tell him the truth when approached by Coach Crooks? Why are parents with kids still in the program concerned about saying anything out of fear for their other kids? Principal McNamara gave Coach Crooks an action item to speak with two players after a meeting with their parents. Coach Crooks had taken copious notes and he never spoke to the players. One of the boys goes into next season with the same problems hanging over his head. The players do not trust or feel safe speaking to Coach Crooks or Athletic Director Feinberg. Coach Crooks flatly denies all accusations and simply does what he wants. All you need to do is go to a few games to feel the negative environment that exits around LHS basketball. There are more fans from the opposing team attending our home games, which is very sad to see. Athletics should be a positive learning experience. Having young men to confront adults, in authority without parental support is not a positive learning experience and in fact a model for intimidation. There will be a meeting on Friday with the players and coaches. Some players have asked for their parents to be present during this upcoming meeting and this request was deny. At this point two meeting have taken place with two players and both players have been accused of not telling the truth by the adults in authority. This is not the type of environment that is healthy for young adults. This is not a positive learning experience. Sincerely, Lincoln High School Players

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