Longview, Texas (Longview News-Journal) — The following letter was published in the Saturday, October 12, 2013, edition of the Longview News-Journal in light of the recent allegations toward Pine Tree Head Football Coach and Athletic Director, Derek Fitzhenry, and recent discrepancies at PTISD:
"First of all, I’m a Pirate. I attended Pine Tree ISD all the way from kindergarten through the 12th grade.
In light of recent (and past) events, I continually find doubt that Pine Tree is the school system my mom (a Pirate herself) and past alumni claim it to be.
As a football player, I had the task of meeting three new head coaches, various assistants, and trying to earn my spot on the team.
I played under coaches Tim Russell, Huey Chancellor and Derek Fitzhenry. I feel it beneficial to share my viewpoint on issues raised by recent events with Coach Fitzhenry. There are certain issues I wish to bring up that apply to the whole Pine Tree community and our school as a whole.
Number 1: Pressure from the community ensures that winning will entail a good football team and build real character. My reply to that would be, what is our expense to obtain this? Too many people in our community believe that winning is the only goal. It’s no longer about character development. We just want to glorify Pine Tree.
Number 2: We have a school board that has ignored many issues and questions already voiced directly related to Fitzhenry. I, as well as many parents, have tried to enlighten our school board on the things that are happening and are getting the cold shoulder in reply. All they want (and now have) is their name on a shiny new stadium. Football isn’t even the only problem our school board ignores. However, that’s another issue.
Number 3: I believe a coach should have good moral standing and treat all players and parents with respect. Many times, I have seen Fitzhenry be demeaning and degrading to other players as well as myself.
On more than one occasion, I was told after coming off the field that I had lost the game for us.
Now, I’m not one to go cry about it, but there is a right way to handle things as a coach and a wrong way. This seemed like the wrong way.
Many of my other coaches have yelled at me, maybe even spat a few expletives, but never in the manner Fitzhenry had. Many of those coaches have gained my utmost respect for the way they handled things on and off the field, but Fitzhenry to me always seemed disrespectful.
In my experiences under Fitzhenry, it always seemed like he was only there when it was required. Most of my high school football career was spent with some outstanding assistant coaches and one position coach who I won’t name (he has my utmost respect and I thank him for what he taught me).
Although I was not in the locker room when the recent events transpired, I believe Fitzhenry is capable of what has been rumored. However, like I said, I wasn’t there and he is innocent until proven guilty.
However, all this being said, it is my personal opinion. I love Pine Tree and I love Pine Tree football but I hate what is happening and how the community views our program.
It’s time to turn around Pine Tree football, but not at the expense of hurting players and losing the true value of why we (at least why I) play football. That is, to build character."
-Tanner Carroll, currently studying at Texas A&M, former Pine Tree Varsity football captain in 2010 and 2011, and member of PTHS Varsity from 2009 - 2011.