Justin Hazelwood

Justin Hazelwood, father of 15-year-old Trevor Hazelwood, expresses his concerns about Halifax County Public School coaches having a conflict of interest after coaching for local travel teams.

In an attempt to remove any perception of conflict of interest between coaches and students, Halifax County School Board unanimously agreed to adopt a policy that would no longer allow Halifax County Public School coaches to receive direct payment for training or coaching services from current student athletes when they met Monday evening.

The policy, participation with non-school athletic teams, also does not allow coaches to receive payments from students who could be on his or her team the following yearn

This came after one parent, Jason Hazelwood, spoke on behalf of his son, Trevor, who had tried out for the JV baseball team, but was cut. This is the second year he has been cut from the JV team.

His dad said at the meeting he thinks it’s because he was unable to pay the dues to allow his son to play on the Virginia Squires or Dirtbags Baseball travel baseball teams in the fall of 2017.

Jody Nelson, who is the high school head JV baseball coach, is listed as the recruiting coordinator and a coach with the Dirtbags on its website. Halifax County Middle School baseball coach Zach Carter and middle school baseball volunteer Dan Powell have ties to the Virginia Squires.

“My family is hurt, confused and at times very angered over this situation. His talent alone should have landed him a position. He should not have to be part of an outside travel team such as the Virginia Squires or the Virginia Dirtbags, which a handful of our coaches have ties to, to earn his spot on the team. His resume speaks for itself. It’s a shame that my 15-year-old son has to see the nasty politics behind the scenes of the game he loves so dearly,” said Hazelwood.

His son made all-star teams on local teams from 2012-2017, played on the Halifax County Middle School baseball team, won the 2016 Kyle Rickman MVP Gold Glove Award for pitching in a championship game and was a member of the Southside Panthers team.

In the fall of 2017, Hazelwood said Nelson attempted to recruit his son for either the Virginia Squires or the Virginia Dirtbags, but he declined.

He said Nelson said he could see Hazlewood’s son and another student playing next level baseball.

“But then a few short months later, he cut him as a freshman from the JV team,” said Hazelwood.

This year his son returned to tryouts, and Hazelwood said Nelson pulled his son aside and asked if he would be willing to be a pitcher only.

“All of this talk was uplifting for Trevor. It was not a guarantee that he was on the team. Feb. 27, Trevor was cut yet again from JV play after he turned in what he thought was an excellent showing at tryouts. Our hearts sunk for him,” said Hazelwood.

He continued saying, “We as well as some one of our fellow friends and teammates and multiple parents in the softball and baseball community feel Trevor had been cheated of his opportunity to represent his high school JV baseball team. In my honest opinion, there’s a conflict of interest when the same individuals who are getting paid for private lessons are the very ones who choose who plays for our school teams.”

ED-8 trustee Walter Potts said it was obvious to him that Hazelwood’s son was not be treated right.

“I don’t want my kids being treated like this, and I appreciate you bringing this to our attention. It’s obvious some people knew and didn’t say anything,” said Potts.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg presented the policy to the board, which was already on the agenda.

He said it would remove any perception of conflict of interest and is the same concept as another policy they have in place that does not allow teachers to receive payment for tutoring services from current students.

The superintendent stressed they were not trying to stop coaches from being able to do coaching work outside of the school system, and that they could still coach or train individuals who are younger or older that their current student athletes.

Lineburg also said, “It’s not up to me to regulate.”

ED-2 Trustee Roy Keith Lloyd asked the superintendent if high school principal Michael Lewis was in favor of the policy, and Lineburg said Lewis is.

“That carries a lot of weight… it may be more of a problem than we realize,” said Lloyd.

Hazelwood stressed to the board that it’s not just his child who has been affected by this.

Ashley Hodge reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com

Ashley Hodge is the editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com