The Pryor Times

Local News

April 24, 2014

Maple addresses LG community at Monday meeting

LOCUST GROVE, OK — Former Locust Grove boys basketball coach Ronnie Maple called a private meeting Monday night to address his status as an employee of the school.

About 130 students, athletes and family members attended the meeting at Pirate Arena.

Maple, who was relieved of his coaching duties April 15,  read from a prepared statement and refused to allow the meeting to become a rally. Maple said he only wanted to communicate to players and families what he knew about the circumstances surrounding his employment with the school and express his feelings about the situation.

“I was able to sit down with our superintendent David Cash on Friday and was made aware of some instances where my actions toward students were deemed harsh or insensitive,” Maple said. “I will agree in those situations that I could have handled them in a different manner.

“I have learned from this experience and pledge to do a better job in the future of being more professional in my handling of students.”

Maple said he has given assurance to Cash, the entire school board and Locust Grove principal Lori Helton that these instances will not happen again.

“My approach to building a rapport with students and athletes is a humorous one,” Maple said. “Often humor breaks through barriers. I like to ‘kid around,’ which often helps kids learn to trust me. This trust allows me to assist them in all aspects of their educational and athletic endeavors.”

Maple said he would like to remain with the school district in a coaching capacity.

“I love each one of my players and students,” he said. “Locust Grove is my home and I would like to continue coaching and teaching in this wonderful community.”

After reading from the statement, Maple said he is still waiting to hear a final verdict from the school’s administrators.

“I know they say they’ve released me of my duties as a coach here, but I’m still fighting and I’ll continue to fight until it's over ... Mr. Cash is supposed to be getting a hold of me later on this week to tell me what my next step moving forward is.”

Cash told The Times in an email Tuesday that “[Maple] has asked about re-applying for his old position ... That is something he can do but the vote has already been taken as to the school board position on his extra-duty contract.”

Maple said he has refrained from posting to social media since he was notified of his dismissal, but that he appreciates the support he has received from the community.

Many in attendance expressed support for Maple after the meeting, including Laura Littlebear, who has two children Maple has coached in the Locust Grove school system.

“He's my son’s mentor ... My daughter’s had him in class. She loves him,” Littlebear said. “I don’t find him offensive. That’s the way he’s built relationships with those kids, by being on that level with him, joking around with them a lot.”

Littlebear is one of many parents that said they will challenge the school board’s decision at the next board meeting, but stressed they need to do it in a fair, polite and positive way.

“People support him,” another parent added. “I haven’t met anyone around here who doesn't want him to stick around.”

“If you’re going to listen to the negative, then listen to the positive. Listen to what I have to say about him, and listen to what these guys [Maple’s players] have to say about him,” Littlebear said.

Littlebear stressed that wherever Maple ends up, the Locust Grove community is behind him.

“The worst thing that could happen is he could walk away from here thinking this community doesn’t support him,” Littlebear said. “He’s going to know he's a loved and respected coach no matter what happens.”

Note: Some information in this report provided by Cydney Baron.

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