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In Response: Maligned student a 'wonderful human being'

The Feb. 20 letter in the News Tribune, " Photo seemed typical of Superior players," did not sit well with me. The letter called out Superior players and judged one player based on a moment in time. The letter publicly shamed this fine, outstanding young man — and then went on to make a blanket statement about all the student-athletes in Superior.

Rob DownsSadly, this is a typical occurrence in today's age. People believe they know everything and spew venom because they feel the need to.

The young man in the newspaper photo that the letter was responding to is an outstanding student-athlete. He created a project where he collected used skates to provide youth opportunities to skate at public rinks. He spends hours at the association rink helping youth teams. He is nothing but polite, respectful, and coachable. He is a wonderful human being.

A picture is a moment in time. The Superior High School player could have been cross-checked by the other team and then landed on top of the player below to create the moment in the photo. We don't know by just looking at the snapshot.

The type of exemplary person this one player is could be said about all the young men on the Superior High School hockey team. That locker room is filled with productive young adults who will be contributors to society.

The team always has the highest GPA in our section and continues to be one of the top in the state. This team has received numerous compliments from local bus companies and rinks, as it is always the philosophy to leave the bus and locker room cleaner than when we entered them. We have received emails from Green Bay restaurants commenting on how our young men acted while in their place of business and how polite and respectful they were.

I had the great honor and privilege of coaching these fine young gentlemen. I can say we were not a win-at-all-costs coaching staff, as the letter suggested. Far from it. We looked to create fine young men with morals and respect, people willing to help others. If you have great people doing great things, results will happen. Winning becomes an outcome. Winning is great, but it is not the end all. This was never how we coached. The coaches on the staff are outstanding human beings. I was privileged to work alongside each of them.

We have spent years creating a good, positive reputation. For one letter to spew false information and potentially ruin all that has been worked so hard for is not acceptable, and it demanded this response.

The letter was misinformed and wrong on numerous levels. It was small to publicly criticize without knowing the entire story or even a fraction of it. It would be big to publicly apologize. The narrow mindedness to call out young adults was shameful. I will stand up for these young men any day. I will be by their side for years. They have my utmost respect and love. These are great young men.

The publication of the Feb. 20 letter taught them the lesson that others will try to knock them off their path and that it is at those times they need to smile, nod, say thank you, and move along to far more important things.

I am proud of these boys and the fine young men they have become. Our team motto is "PHT" for "pride," "heart," and "tradition." It is at the core of what we believe. These amazing young men have worn that emblem daily on their practice jerseys and have exemplified it both on and off the ice.

Rob Downs III of Superior was a varsity assistant hockey coach at Superior High School from 2003 to 2006 and from 2010 to 2019. He is in his third year coaching varsity girls lacrosse at Superior.