Winthrop coach delivers emotional speech on school shooting

Credit: Charlotte Observer

Winthrop coach delivers emotional speech on school shooting

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by NBC Charlotte Staff

WCNC.com

Posted on December 19, 2012 at 8:37 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 11:09 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A South Carolina coach made an emotional plea Tuesday night in a post-game news conference.

Winthrop University men's basketball coach Pat Kelsey didn't talk about the game, but about something he says is much bigger.

In the press conference he said, “I’m gonna walk into my house. I'm gonna walk into two pink rooms with a 5-year-old and a 4-year-old lying in that pink room. With a bunch of teddy bears lying in that room, and I'm gonna give them the biggest hug and the biggest kiss I've ever given them. And there are 20 families in Newtown, Connecticut that are walking into a pink room with a bunch of teddy bears with nobody lying in those beds. And it's tragic. And I don't know what needs to be done. I'm not smart enough to know what needs to be done. I know this country's got issues. Is it a gun issue? Is it a mental health issue? Or is it a society that has lost the facts, the understanding of that decent human values are important? 

Kelsey says the idea to talk about it just came over him--  it wasn't planned at all.

Here's the verbatim transcript of Kelsey's speech from Tuesday night's post-game press conference:

“The last thing I wanna say is I’m really, really lucky, ’cause I’m gonna get on an eight-hour bus ride, and I’m gonna arrive in Rock Hill, S.C., and I’m gonna walk into my house, and I’m gonna walk upstairs, and I’m gonna walk into two pink rooms, OK, with a 5-year-old and a 4-year-old laying in that pink room, with a bunch of teddy bears laying in that room.

“And I’m gonna give them the biggest hug and the biggest kiss I’ve ever given them. And there’s 20 families in Newtown, Conn., that are walking into a pink room with a bunch of teddy bears with nobody laying in those beds. And it’s tragic.

“And I don’t know what needs to be done. I’m not smart enough to know what needs to be done, OK? I know this country’s got issues. Is it a gun issue? Is it a mental illness issue? Or is it a society that has lost the fact, the understanding, that decent human values are important?

“And our leaders – I didn’t vote for President Obama. But you know what? He’s my president now. He’s my leader. I need him to step up. Mr. Boehner, the Speaker of the House, he’s a Xavier guy, he’s a Cincinnati guy, OK, he needs to step up.

“Parents, teachers, rabbis, priests, coaches, everybody needs to step up. This has to be a time for change. And I know this microphone’s powerful right now, because we’re playing the fourth-best team in the country. I’m not going to have a microphone like this the rest of the year, maybe the rest of my life.

“And I’m going to be an agent of change with the 13 young men I get to coach every day and the two little girls that I get to raise. But hopefully things start changing, because it’s really, really disappointing.

“I’m proud to grow up American. I’m proud to say I’m part of the greatest country ever. And that’s got to stay that way. And it’ll stay that way if we change. But we gotta change.”

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