Two Virginia Beach high school coaches suspended after investigation into baseball program

Posted at 10:51 PM, Sep 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-07 23:09:39-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Some former Floyd E. Kellam High School baseball players are coming forward with their positive experiences with the coaches after learning of their suspension.

"He was like a second father to me, I was at the field more than I was at home," says Sam Sinnen, a senior pitcher at ODU and a Class of 2013 Kellam alumni.

The head and assistant baseball coaches, St Clair Jones and Ryan Kurpiel, are suspended until March 31 of 2017, but will be allowed to attend tryouts.

A Virginia Beach Public Schools spokeswoman tells News 3 "a decision was made as a result of an investigation into the baseball program related to concerns that were brought forward about coaching practices and player discipline."

"I can't think of any instances where he didn't want the best for a player," says Sinnen.

According to the 2017 schedule, the coaches will miss the first four games. School officials say they have named an interim coach, Mike Lloyd.

Some parents thought the punishment was not nearly enough.

"I was absolutely dumbfounded, imagine if an English teacher had done this," says a Virginia Beach father.

He spoke exclusively to News 3 about some of those concerns that he brought forward to school administration regarding how the coaches treated his son and other players, but asked to be kept anonymous.

"These men have mentally, physically, and emotionally abused young men for a long time and they got away with it," he says. "It's a toxic environment how they treat these young men."

The parent says after the team won a game back in March, Coach Jones confronted his son in front of the team about not shaving that day.

He says his son was excessively cursed at, something Coach Jones did often, then the student was told to get into a push-up position and crawl for more than an hour. When he came home, his hands were bright red and swollen.

"My son could not raise his arm more than about 20 degrees," says the parent. "He went to school the next day, he couldn't hold a pencil."

He says twelve seniors started with the team last season, but only five seniors stayed until the end. Several others transferred before the 2016-2017 school year.

Another parent gave News 3 a letter outlining a 2014 incident in which Coach Jones grabbed his son's shirt by the neck, pulled him down to the ground, and used profanity, all because he missed a guidance session.

Other parents have expressed concerns about Team Elite, where Coach Kurpiel works. They say players were told if they did not pay to train there during the summer, they would not get a spot on Kellam's team.

However, former players like Sinnen say he never witnessed any of the instances that parents are alleging. He says there was punishment, but nothing out of the ordinary. There is now a "Support for Coach Jones and Kurpiel" page on Facebook.

"It was nothing that we didn't deserve, we were a bunch of rascals back in high school," says Sinnen. "I don't think it was ill-advised, nothing with cruel intentions coming behind it."

News 3 reached out to Coach Jones and Coach Kurpiel about the suspension and allegations, but we are still waiting to hear back.