by Ryan Bailey
The 7A Bryant Hornet football team won their fifth consecutive state championship, but some players did not receive a championship ring as expected. The award ceremony was held on Wednesday, May 24th at the high school. Two parents agreed to speak about it.
Mandy Keith, mother of EJ Keith, produced a copy of an email conversation with the head football coach, Buck James. In her email, Ms. Keith expresses concern over her son being told by coaches he can no longer get his championship ring, nor travel to events with the team because EJ is probably leaving next year.
Coach James replied, “Thank you for your concern! When a kid quits a team he does not travel with that team anymore. The thing is he quit and never said anything to me about it. The policy for the last 5 yrs any player that quits the team is no longer on the team. You must finish to be on the team… No he will not travel with the team today and anybody else who quit will not travel as well. Everything was talked about in the parent meeting before the season started. We are doing what has been done for the past 5 football seasons.”
(Above) Traci Motes adds a video link to her post about her son Gideon not receiving a championship ring.
Another parent, Traci Motes, has a similar story, speaking about her disdain for what she describes as hypocrisy from the football coaches. “What really aggravates me is that the defensive coordinator [Quad Sanders] is quitting to work as a coach in Jonesboro, and he got a ring. He’s on Facebook smiling with it ear-to-ear!”
Thank you to @everettbuickgmc for sponsoring the Bryant High School Football Banquet! We appreciate your continued support of our student athletes and coaches. #CommUNITYPartner #212 pic.twitter.com/ACamqDSoZM
— Bryant High School (@bryanthshornets) May 25, 2023
Coach Sanders is pictured above, at the award ceremony, (at left in a white shirt) along with the rest of the team staff. Sanders announced in March that he would be leaving Bryant to join Jonesboro High School as their head coach.
2 Hornets received awards at the State Championship: Congrats Gideon Motes – Farm Bureau MVP & Tyler Mosley – Burlsworth Player of the Game! #BryantHornets #bryanthornetsfootball #Be212 #212Nation #driveforfive #FinishedWhereWeStarted #MissionComplete #TookState @Buck_James212 pic.twitter.com/x9YJF2sZSM
— Bryant Hornet Football (@BryantHornet212) December 13, 2022
Her son Gideon Motes, who played on the team this current season, was MVP of a 7A championship game. However, since he has been injured multiple times and wants to focus on baseball next year, the coaches are denying him his ring and any travel events with the team. Ms. Motes said that after going back and forth with Coach James via email, he tells her finally, “No, it’s been a rule for 5 years that anyone who quits doesn’t get a ring.”
Congrats to Gideon Motes for recognition from the Hornets vs. North Little Rock for his Fourth Quarter Effort! Thx to FSBC Bryant for sponsoring this great award! #bryanthornets #bryanthornetsfootball #FinishWhereWeStarted #DriveForFive #Be212 @Buck_James212 @BHornetAthletes pic.twitter.com/vFGUH4BXrv
— Bryant Hornet Football (@BryantHornet212) October 31, 2022
I reached out to Coach James via phone call and text message and did not hear back. I also reached out to Bryant High School and was transferred to the Athletic Department, but did not hear back after having to leave a voicemail. Please check back here, as this story is still developing.
Read more articles by Ryan Bailey. Ryan works in the tech field and is a freelance writer. He holds a bachelor’s degree from UA Little Rock. Ryan is a Saline County transplant and learns more about the community with each article. In his free time, you can see him hiking Pinnacle Mountain with his girlfriend, or playing video games on a rainy day.