Decades-long tradition ends; Winning coach banned from inspiring grads

by | Jun 3, 2014 | Best of!


Coach Leon McCoy

Graduating seniors and their parents are protesting this by the Winfield, West Virginia school board decision After many years of speaking to high school grads at commencement, a beloved coach who is retiring will not be permitted to give the annual commencement speech. He’s done it for many years, and he does talk about God. But that’s the reason he won’t be speaking this year:

WINFIELD, W.Va. (Chris Williams) — A tradition is coming to an end this year in Winfield, when the high school has it’s graduation next week. Legendary coach Leon McCoy is not going to speak at the ceremony this year. 

“I’m disappointed. I hate to go out this way,” said Coach Leon McCoy, who won’t be speaking at this year’s Winfield High School Graduation. 

Leon McCoy has been speaking at Winfield High School’s graduation as far back as he can remember… But he won’t be this year, because the board of education says they’ve gotten complaints that McCoy’s speeches contain too many religious references, and violate the Supreme Court ruling banning prayer in public schools. 

“He gives to these kids year in and year out. To see him not be able to speak on their behalf this year is a shock to me,” said a former of McCoy’s Charles Cook. 

After hearing the news, some graduating seniors say they felt cheated. 

“He spoke at all three of my sibling’s graduation, and so I’ve always wanted him to speak at mine,” said Winfield High School Senior Hunter Sheldon. 

Hunter Sheldon and his friends and her friends started a petition to try to get the coach back on the agenda for graduation. They say students are inspired by his speeches. 

“The graduations I’ve been to the whole crowd is cheering, and the religion issue has never really been a problem. It’s continued, even after it was made illegal,” said Winfield High School Senior Kalie Ferrell. 

McCoy says it will be strange not giving a speech, but says he’ll handle the situation the only way he knows how. 

“I will adhere to what I am asked to do. Maybe they will change their minds someday,” added McCoy. 

Coach McCoy wanted to make it very clear he holds no ill will towards anyone at Winfield High School, or the board office. He says he has great respect for the school administrators. He just wants graduation day to be about the kids and not him.