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School concerned about sportsmanship after new soccer record

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 12, 2021

Benzie Central's Kevin Hubbell controls the ball during a high school soccer game against Traverse City Christian at the Keystone Soccer Complex in Traverse City, Mich., on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. Hubbell set Michigan and national records with 16 goals against winless Kingsley High School on Sept. 29, 2021. The Kingsley school board plans to send a letter to the Benzie Central school board over what it considers to be a lack of sportsmanship against its young, overmatched team.  (Mike Krebs)
Benzie Central's Kevin Hubbell controls the ball during a high school soccer game against Traverse City Christian at the Keystone Soccer Complex in Traverse City, Mich., on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. Hubbell set Michigan and national records with 16 goals against winless Kingsley High School on Sept. 29, 2021. The Kingsley school board plans to send a letter to the Benzie Central school board over what it considers to be a lack of sportsmanship against its young, overmatched team. (Mike Krebs)
Associated Press

KINGSLEY, Mich. — A school board in northern Michigan plans to send a protest over sportsmanship following a soccer player’s 16-goal record-setting game against a winless team.

The backlash over Kevin Hubbell’s performance continued Monday night at a meeting of the Kingsley board. Members didn’t take a formal vote, but there was clear support for sending a letter to the Benzie Central school board, the superintendent said.

Hubbell, one of the best players in Michigan, scored 16 goals in a 17-0 victory by Benzie Central on Sept. 29, setting state and national records for most goals in a high school game.

“He was firing them off like a rocket,” said Heather Bartelmay, a Kingsley school board member whose son was goalkeeper for part of the game. “We went over and hugged our boys. That’s what was needed. Their hearts were bleeding.”

Superintendent Keith Smith, who will draft the board’s letter, told The Associated Press that it was a “cheap shot.”

“They set out to do it, and they did it,” Smith said Tuesday. “It has no place in high school athletics. … Moving forward from getting knocked on your face is a great life lesson. But our soccer program is a fledgling program. We only have so many kids.”

Kingsley is 0-16 and has scored only seven goals all season, according to game results posted online.

Benzie Central coach Chris Batchelder has told local news media that he knew records were possible against the struggling Stags. But in a Sept. 30 letter to Kingsley officials, he said he didn’t intend to “humiliate your players or your program” and apologized for some remarks.

“It was a player getting hot and I got lost in the opportunity the kid had in front of him,” Batchelder said.

There was no immediate response Tuesday to emails seeking comment from Benzie Central school officials.

Kingsley soccer mom Shannon Schoech suggested the school should stop playing Benzie Central in any sport this year.

“We as parents want to be able to tell our boys that not only did their parents and loved ones stand up for them, but their entire community did as well,” Schoech told the school board.

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