Letter: BBA has long history of inclusion

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To the Editor:I would like to comment to Bob Stannard's article titled "Stand up, or wish you had," concerning the movie about the MSJ basketball players by Duane Carlton. Sad stuff, indeed. I actually had the opportunity to sit down with Duane around the time the film was released and gave him my perspective on what had transpired. I believe that folks should be made aware that Burr and Burton, and our community, has a long history of diversity and inclusion. Many will remember The Ormsby Hill program from the 1970s and 80s and beyond, in which many outstanding young men from urban areas were able to attend Burr and Burton and enjoy all of the benefits that the school and this community provides. Our community embraced these young men with open arms. Many of us still have and enjoy long lasting relationships with the guys from that era.If Mr. Stannard were to ask coach Benatatos about his feelings towards the Burr and Burton basketball program, perhaps he have written his article a little bit differently, but maybe not. When our teams played against the MSJ team that the movie is about, there was a strong and mutual respect from both programs, from the players right on down to the coaching staff. Anyone who watched those games would have recognized that. Those young men who played for MSJ were better behaved than almost any other team we played. That is a testament to their individual character, and the coaching and mentoring they received. As a program, we never brought up the issue of VPA rules or recruitment. That is a different conversation and a broader issue among high schools throughout the nation. Our teams just played and competed hard. In fact, when coach Benatatos left MSJ amidst the chaos that ensued there, we wrote him a letter of recommendation for his application at Mill River.It is very sad and true that there is racial tension, and if it proves true that students from our school were chanting racial slurs, then shame on them. I was coaching the game in question, and I do not recall hearing anything at all, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. I will say that rest assured that if I witnessed it, or any of our staff , or the athletic directors or teachers and many others, there would have been a quick stop to that nonsense.In a larger frame none of this surprises me. Men have been butchering each other since the beginning of time, and sadly a lot worse then what these young men experienced here in Vermont. India, Syria, China Africa, Turkey, Germany, etc — it just goes on and on. We need hearts to change!I too am an alumni and played on those Burr and Burton teams in the 1970s, and some of our players had to put up with the same nonsense these kids from MSJ has had to deal with, In particular when we were on the road. It wasn't pretty at times.I feel it is important, and it is my hope, that people will recognize a little history about our community, our school, and it's approach to athletics, before they rush to judgement.Dave ShehadiDorsetEditor's note: The author coached boys' varsity basketball at BBA from 2010-11 thru 2015-16.


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