WALES – After a widely criticized social media post that resulted in two Kettle Moraine School District students potentially facing charges of disorderly conduct and another receiving support from the community, the Kettle Moraine cross country team decided to use the moment to put out a positive message.
“After hearing the news of the Snapchats that were sent out, that brought up some conversation that I had with the captains (and) that’s not at all how we want to represent ourselves,” said Cross Country Coach Kevin Buntman. “Our team is very good at including guys (and) there’s no issues in inviting guys in.”
Buntman said team captains Max Knight and Chase Kontranowski decided to have the team put personalized, encouraging messages on their number bibs for an upcoming dual with Waukesha North Sept. 11.
Some messages said “Black Lives Matter;” others had “Peace, Unity, Love.” Runners based their message on what they were personally feeling in a show of unity.
“It’s a bummer that kids that make poor choices get to write a story for our high school,” Buntman said. So he and the team took the initiative to put forward a new story more in line with Kettle Moraine’s values.
'We are very proud of our team and coaches for taking on this important topic,” the district said, in a statement. “We agree with the student athletes who wore messages of unity and equity — the poor choices of a few does not represent what KM stands for. We applaud these young men for standing up for their schools and community to promote kindness, empathy and inclusiveness.”
Buntman, who also teaches math and computer science, said character building is an important part of his mission as a coach.
“A big thing for me is building young men first and athletes second,” he said. “We have a lot of conversations about how to poise yourself and how to be a kind and caring person.”