COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Tuesday night, first-year Winthrop University Men’s Basketball Coach Pat Kelsey delivered an emotional message concerning the recent tragedy that struck Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Winthrop had just lost their game against Ohio State University before Kelsey’s comments. The father to two young daughters was talking to reporters about the loss when he asked for the opportunity to say one more thing:
“The last thing I wanna say is I’m really, really lucky, because 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. I’m gonna walk upstairs, and 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.
“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, Conn., that are walking into a pink room with a bunch of teddy bears with nobody laying in those beds. And it’s tragic.
“I don’t know what needs to be done. 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?
“And our leaders — I didn’t vote for President Obama — but you know what? He’s my president now. He’s my leader. I need him 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. This has to be a time for change. And I know this microphone’s powerful right now because we’re playing the fourth-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.
“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. 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 gotta change.”