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Track Coach Fired for Refusing to Force Athletes to Wear Masks

A New Hampshire high school track and field coach was fired earlier this week for not making his student-athletes wear masks.

Brad Keyes, a third-year track and field coach at Pembroke Academy, penned a letter to his athletic director, Fred Vezina, explaining his intentions to not make his team wear masks during competition, according to a report from The Concord Monitor.

masksIn the message to his AD, according to The Monitor, Keyes said athletic directors and school boards that followed the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA) recommendations and agreed to outdoor mask-wearing were doing a disservice to the athletes.

“I’ll come straight to the point,” he said to The Monitor. “I will not put kids on the track and tell them to run any races while wearing masks.

The email sent was sent to Vezina under the subject line, “Fire me if your must,” the Monitor reported, and later posted his letters and thoughts behind them on his track and field website.

“…the real reason I won’t [make my team wear masks] it is because it’s senseless, irrational, cowardice b——t and I will not help cover that up,” Keyes wrote in the letter. “I will not stand up in front of the kids and lie to them and tell them that these masks are doing anything worthwhile out in an open field with wind blowing and the sun shining.”

For the spring season, the NHIAA recommended that athletes wear masks during the spring season during all running events, with the exception of hurdles and throwing events — where student-athletes have the choice.

“It is what I expected and I understand Fred’s position,” Keyes said to The Monitor, shortly after he had received the athletic director’s response. “I said I will not follow the rules and he made his choice and now it’s up to everyone else to make their choice.”

Keyes was not alone in his thinking among his NHIAA track and field peers. The Monitor spoke with Stan Lyford, track and cross country coach at Portsmouth (NH) High School for 47 years, and serves on the state’s track and field coaches association, to see if anyone agreed with Keyes.

“Brad Keyes is not alone on the mask issue,” Lyford said in an email to The Monitor. “Everyone I talk to thinks that wearing masks while running is a bad idea. It is not like soccer or other sports where you run a little and ease off. Track is full speed ahead at all times. I will go along (unhappily) with the state’s rules. I personally can’t imagine myself running with a mask.”

To read the full story from The Concord Monitor on the New Hampshire coach getting fired, click here