Where Were You When He Was Making His Choices?

I have received several comments as to my posts on Pat Lazear and the “Smoothie King Incident.”  Some printable, most not – all from Whitman “Faithful”.  One in particular that I received was from a young man who identified himself only as a “current whitman student”.  I have written the post below in response to his comment but it really is for everyone.  

current whitman student:

I appreciate your comments regarding this entirely regrettable situation which several of your former classmates/ team mates were involved. It is clear that Robert Warren had a troubled past and even his behavior at Whitman was not exemplary.

I don’t believe anyone is excusing Mr. Warren for his involvement in the Smoothie King robbery or that Pat Lazear had some magical power over Mr. Warren that forced to commit this crime.

But the real point that is being missed by so many people is that Pat Lazear made a choice to be involved with people like Mr. Warren and commit acts like the Smoothie King robbery.  Where were his parents, his coaches or his teachers to steer him clear of this kind of stuff?

Pat Lazear is a gifted athlete with an unlimited potential ahead of him.  He had his choice of colleges to attend, at no cost, and the opportunity to get one of the best educations in the country.  If athletics did not lead to a career after college for him he would have had the opportunity to learn from some of the brightest minds in the world any subject he chose.  And he could have used that knowledge along with the potential public notoriety he would have gained from playing sports in college to work anywhere he wanted.  The golden path lay before him.  He knew it.  His parents knew it.  His coaches knew it.  His teachers knew it.  Even his friends, like you, knew it.

But he was allowed to throw it all away because nobody ever sat him down and told him, “No.”  And why would they?  He was  this great athlete who if allowed to play in that next game, or wrestle that next match would bring glory and honor to his family, his team, his school.  His parents wouldn’t have to pay for college, his coach might win a state championship and get a better spot somewhere else, and people associated with Whitman could walk around saying they knew Pat when he tackled 3 guys by himself.

And no one can say there were no warning signs.  He was convicted of using a stolen credit card only 17 months before the Smoothie King incident.    He served 90 days court supervised probation for it.  This is not some little transgression.  One of the many Whitman “Faithful” who have written to me about Mr. Warren said that he, too, was convicted of using a stolen credit card.  I am assuming they committed that crime together?  Or maybe it is a coincidence.  Either way, if my kid was caught with another kid committing a crime, it is the last time my kid would be seen with that kid.  Especially a kid who has a checkered past like Mr. Warren.

If Mr. Warren’s behavior at wrestling matches was as bad as you say, how could the coaches not steer Pat away from him?  I know that some people believe that too many parents look to the schools to raise their kids.  And I am not advocating this.  What I am saying is that when a teacher or coach has the rare opportunity to have a student athlete like Pat Lazear, they should help him to see right from wrong, help keep bad influences away that might side track him.  Keep him focused on what he needs to do, and not do, to succeed.  Be an example, be a mentor, be an educator.  Don’t just turn the other way when they do something wrong or begin hanging out with the wrong crowd because it might upset your star and you won’t be able to ride the gravy train.  Do what is right for him.

I am glad so many people support Pat.  He is going to need it.  But where was everyone when he was making these choices?

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10 responses to “Where Were You When He Was Making His Choices?

  1. I would like to know why you are an authority on Pat Lazear. Do you know him? I love how people like yourself are making Pat Lazear your big story. He is a kid, who made a HUGE mistake. We teach our kids to make choices. This was a very bad one. WE as adults still make bad choices, but fortunately they don’t always make the Front Page of the Washington Post Sports section. He is a scholar athlete, and a humble giant. Not a cocky ass kid that you all have made him out to be. He made a mistake that he will regret for the rest of his life, but sit back and wait until the facts come out. I still believe innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until proven innocent.

  2. MLG:

    Thanks for your comments.

    THIS NOT ABOUT PAT LAZEAR. IT IS ABOUT THE COACHES AND ADMINISTRATION AT WHITMAN.

    I’ve watched Coach Wetzel allow his wrestlers to act like arrogant jerks at meets for years. Strutting around like bullies when they win and throwing the most self centered and immature fits when they lose. Pat Lazear and Eren Civan are two prime examples of outstanding athletes who are not being taught to respect their opponenets and to show some modesty and humility when they clearly are superior to thier opponents.

    When I read 3 articles on the same day in the Washington Post about involving Whitman High School students involved in illiegal activity, I have to question what is being taught at that school. (FYI, the articles appeared on Oct. 20th. and were about the Smoothie King robbery, Athletes grade tampering and anti-sematic vandalism at BCC by Whitman students).

    So quit thinking this is all about Pat Lazear and that people are judging him unfairly. If you know Pat that well or you know anybody at Whitman, you should focus your energy there and start asking questions about how these kinds of things could be allowed to happen.

  3. i would just like to say that first off, warren is a very troubled kid. he has had offences for shooting a gun into his own home and credit card fraud. however pat was not involved with warren anytime before his attendance at whitman. they made a bad choice and it was thier choice the administration had no influence on them. these kids are smart kids and would have dont it with or without administration influence. weztel is a fine coach and he reprimands his students when they act arrogant at matches. i know i have been a manager. the bcc vandalism was never proven to be by whitman students. bcc has vandalized our property as well. dont judge someone unless you know everything and know them personally.

  4. I am also a Walt Whitman student. I had all 5 of those guys in my classes. I saw them in the hallway and I would see them in Bethesda acting like normal teenagers. I would have to agree that what they did was totally out of order and that they should be held responsible for thier actions. I think it all came down to peer pressure. I don’t think it is fair to put down Whitman. This obviously didn’t help our reputation but no one is focusing on all of the good things Whitman has to show. We have some of the best SAT scores in the county. We have sent kids out to amazing colleges. It is not fair to blame teachers and coaches for something they had no control over. No one knows the relationships these kids had with their mentors. How do you know that their coaches didn’t speak to them? How do you know how the teachers treated them when they acted up? The fact is that you don’t and you can’t talk badly about our school without having first hand experience. I do think that Pat made a huge mistake because so many people would kill for the talent he had. Stop putting down Whitman. I am sure every school has a bad part of their history. Just let it go. Those kids have gone through enough. They don’t need to have random people taking crap about them when they don’t even know them.

  5. Former Moco Student and Coach

    It is clear that you are a supporter of Damascus and clearly have an unhealthy hatred of Whitman students and coaches and have taken it to the level of calling for certain resignations.

    My question for you is this, when Dave Hopkins allowed Andre Kelley (banned by the county for sexual contact with female students while employed by the school system) into the practice room did you call for his resignation?

    You state that you are a middle aged father of four, yet spend your days slinging mud at a high school wrestler who to my knowledge, and most likely yours, has no criminal history (Eren Civan) and yet you reference him in the same vain as the 5 that were involved in this incident.

    My advice to you is people in glass houses should not throw stones.

  6. Former Moco Student and Coach:

    You are correct – in a way. I am a supporter of Damascus in the sense that I live in that area of the county, my children attend the public schools there (including DHS), they have participated and I have coached DSA teams. However, my children have also played on other sports organization’s athletic teams in the area either because DSA didn’t offer the sport, it was a travel team or I felt it was in my child’s best interest to play elsewhere – this has been a decision based upon what the coach taught/stressed and not playing time for my kid as many parents would use for their reason to have their child play somewhere other than their home organization.

    I would not say I am a supporter of Damascus in the sense that they can do no wrong or the coaches, teachers, administrators are perfect. I am actively involved at Damascus High School helping to support the programs the school offers because it is where my kids go. I also call “BS” at DHS at times when I see it. I have regularly worked with the principal, Bob Demorgue to enforce a better and more realistic contract for all students involved in extra curricular activities.

    I was not aware of the situation you raise regarding Coach Hopkins and Andre Kelley. Was this recent? Without knowing all the details, I can not say whether I would call for Coach Hopkins resignation, but if I were aware of the incident, I would certainly demand it be looked into. If the outcome of the review or investigation warranted Coach Hopkins resignation or even the resignation of any other school official, then I would be calling for it.

    As for Eren Civan, you may be right that it may not be fair to include him the other Whitman 5. I used his name as an example of a tremendous athlete with outstanding potential who, like most teenagers with this ability, I have seen act inappropriately after defeating a clearly undermatched opponent. My issue isn’t with Eren, per se, but with what those adults around him do or say to him when he acts this way. By not stopping it when it happens or not pointing out inappropriate behavior to any student they are only perpetuating the idea that student is above the rules of all other students and people in society must live by.

    Thus, you end up with the Whitman 5. Remember, this was not Pat Lazear’s first offense. If Goodwin was able to remove him from the school for the armed robbery, whey didn’t he suspend him from a football game or wrestling match or something else that would have had an impact on Pat after his first offense.

    I do not have an unhealthy hatred of Whitman students. Whitman just happened to be the school these 5 kids went to. Whitman just happened to be the school under suspicion for the anti-Semitic vandalism at BCC. Whitman just happened to be one of the schools who used ineligible players – All 3 articles appearing on the same day in the Washington Post.

    If I lived in the Wheaton or Paint Branch area and something like these things happened at Northwest or Damascus or even Wheaton, I would be just as vocal. You can remove “Whitman” from any of my posts and they wouldn’t change. If I lived in California and read what I have read about the things happening at Whitman I would ask just as many questions – the only difference is because I live in the area I have seen things happen related to Whitman which just reinforce my concerns just as I have at other schools, including Damascus. But none of the other schools have as much controversy occurring at them right now.

    So thanks for your comment and the fact that you avoided using foul language or threats. It is unfortunate for the people of Whitman that they are having to live in the “glass house” right now, but what are they doing to try and find the real cause of these problems and fix them? I hope this clears up your concerns.

  7. Former Moco Student and Coach:

    I am writing to you again, because I did check on Andre Kelly and your allegations that Coach Hopkins allowed him into the wrestling room after his being banned for sexual contact with a female student.

    Your allegation is false. It was a volunteer rec coach who had Mr. Kelly help coach one of the all male youth wrestling teams. He did this only after information on Mr. Kelly was given to all the parents of the wrestlers that Mr. Kelly would be working with and getting their ok. It was only after the school found out that Mr. Kelly was involved that they told the rec league he was not allowed in the school, thus banning the rec league from using the school if he continued to coach the team. Coach Hopkins had nothing to do with this.

    Andre Kelly was a long time Damascus resident who had a very successful wrestling career in the Washington, DC area while growing up. Unfortunately, he screwed up by having sexual contact with a female student. The few people I spoke to about this said there was some question as to whether she was underage or not but the fact remains as a teacher he should not have been involved with a student like this.

    But the school he taught at and Montogomery County Public Schools acted apprpriately by banning him from the schools. And when Damascus High School found out he was participating in an activity that took place in their school, they acted appropriately by informing the organization he was with they could not use the facility if he was going to be present.

    So, “Former Moco Student and Coach” please get the facts straight before making blanket accusations. My calls for the people of Whitman to look into how the school and the athletics programs are being run is based upon factual events which have occurred.

    And as you can see, I do check into things that might be oof reason to cause concern about how things are being operated at my kids’ schools.

  8. first of all i understand that vandalising is wrong but i recall that BCC drew a picture of a D**k on the head of our Mascot, the viking. Which, some kid spent probably 2-3 hours after school making. And you cant expect 13-18 year olds to just accept that.. i gaurentee u students from any school would have done the same thing.

    Second, there is nothing whitman staff can do about ineligible students playing… and i also recall that out of those 50+ student-athletes playing inelligibly only 1 or 2 were from Whitman.

    And finally, about eren civan… i am on the whitman wrestling team and eren is an outstanding wrestler. He just dominates everyone. And if a wrestler doesnt want to get humiliated they shouldnt wrestle him. He has te right to be able to act like he is the best because HE IS THE BEST!

    Anyways this blogging thing is really fun. hope to get a reply.

  9. jkitterm: are you by any chance “mattcleaner” from the moco wrestling forum?

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