HEMPSTEAD– The Hempstead ISD school board has voted to fire popular football coach Ricky Sargent. His fate was hanging in the balance after leaving two students behind at a restaurant after a track meet. School board trustees met behind closed doors for more than three hours before taking action. They also voted to suspend four other coaches without pay for 30 days.
In 2011, Sargent took Hempstead High School to its only state championship game in school history. He also coaches track. The track team was returning from a meet when they stopped in Giddings to grab a bite to eat. The players admitted they were being rowdy on the bus. Sargent directed the bus driver to head back to Hempstead.
“We were on the bus clowning around, making noise,” said Darius Battles, one of the two students who was left behind. “Coach said we weren’t going to get nothing to eat.” Battles and his cousin, Ronnie Jones, decided to disobey. They got off the bus to get their own food not thinking they’d be left at the restaurant. “I thought they were playing. I thought they were going to pull around and just scare us, but they didn’t,” said Jones. The bus brought the rest of the team back home, leaving Battles and Jones alone at the restaurant almost an hour away from home at 11:00 p.m.
Coach Sargent returned to the restaurant in his personal car to wait with the teens until one of their mothers picked them up. Sargent said leaving the two students is a decision he will regret for the rest of his life, but he is grateful for the opportunity to coach at Hempstead High School.
“I hate that it had to end this way, but when you make a mistake you have to live by it and learn from it,” said Sargent.