AVERILL PARK, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Averill Park Varsity Softball Coach Ken Bailey has responded to allegations of bullying by two players. In an email he wrote, “I’d finally like to reply to the allegations made against me by two former players. I deny all charges made against me. What you have here is a classic ‘witch hunt.’ You have two entitled players who quit the team because their coach held them accountable. Great parenting skills!”
Earlier this week, some parents and students are spoke out against the longtime softball coach. Two Averill Park softball players say they quit playing because of Bailey’s alleged bullying and body shaming. The district superintendent says their claims are being investigated.
Several of his former players have come out in support of Bailey, including Meghan Hagerty who wrote, “Ken Bailey was a tough coach. He had high expectations for all his players. He expected us to show up every day, and give 100 percent. He did not allow for excuses, and he pushed his players to be the best so we could win…My heart breaks, along with other alumni, as we watch a kind, dedicated, hardworking man get harassed and abused by people who are only hearing one side of a story on social media.”
Bailey led the Averill Park softball team to a Section 2 Class A Championship last year and a state title three years earlier. But despite all the wins, two current players say his coaching style has left them feeling defeated.
“I want to step out on the field but I can’t with him coaching,” said Jayden Lee.
“Some people will tell you its old school coaching, but I really beg to differ on that,” said Kelsey Mohl.
Instead, designated hitter Mohl and pitcher Lee say what they endured was bullying and body shaming.
“He called me a ‘heavy set hitter’ in front of the whole team and thought it was hilarious,” said Kelsey.
So along with Kelsey’s mom Kelly,
“Coach Bailey has degraded my daughter to the point where she’s emotionally beaten down, it’s not fair.”
And Jayden’s father Tony,
“It is a culture of fear that is created on the field.”
The girls brought a list of concerns to the superintendent last week.
“He told me during practice one day that when I run the ground shakes. He said to another girl, ‘if you had one less potato chip you would have been safe at first.’”
Tony says the meeting didn’t resolve anything.
“I got an email Thursday basically saying there wasn’t enough information to keep Coach Bailey from coaching.”
In a statement, Averill Park Superintendent Dr. James Franchini said quote,
“We have received some alleged concerns from a few students regarding coach bailey and are in the process of investigating those concerns. Beyond that, I am unable to comment on a personnel matter.”
He added that he asked Coach Bailey not to attend Wednesday’s game so as not to distract the players. Kelsey and Jayden say they will be at the game, not playing but cheering on their teammates.