By now most of the western hemisphere has weighed in on our story regarding Jon Kitna and the rather complex matter involving a coach at another school in the district. Reporting such a story is part of the fabric of any media outlet driven by the pursuit of truth even when the truth is difficult to digest.
No publisher with a grain of sense will ever allow personal feelings about someone or something determine the pursuits of his editor and newsroom. My own behaviors, professional and personal, are subject to exposure when it comes to the Daily Light’s role in this community. Our editor knows full well that if I robbed a bank, smacked somebody in the head, was caught stealing a candy bar or conducting business unethically … you’d find out all about it on page one tomorrow. An outlet serious about its mission wouldn’t have it any other way.
Fast forward to the aforementioned story we broke this past Wednesday. Despite opinions covering the spectrum of plausibility and the feelings for Jon Kitna ranging from giddy heights to deplorable lows, the vast amount of empirical proof we were given substantiates every element of our reporting … otherwise, we wouldn’t have reported it. If anyone reading this column or the story believes we relish in reporting such news, they don’t know us all that well. It is true after all that, like most people in this community, we’ve hoped Jon Kitna, his coaching staff and his team would achieve extraordinary levels of success … on the field and off. In fact, upon receiving the news in early 2015 that Kitna was headed to Waxahachie, I wrote the coach to welcome him to town. The intent of the Ietter was to also convey Waxahachie’s warmth and that the opportunity to guide the football program here was Kitna’s to make as remarkable and extraordinary as he wanted. The only thing standing in the coach’s way would be the coach, not Waxahachie. Despite cries to the contrary, I believe such holds true to this day.
Yes, sadly, there are those in this town who seem to find comfort in other people’s failures and who work diligently to make sure every breathing organism in the world knows about them. The obsession is so strong, these people will fabricate failures, if necessary. Such a way of life is not only ‘Dr. Phil’ worthy, it’s a way of life that will one day lead to a dance with the devil. I’ve highlighted these folks in this column from time to time and, as a result, hope you know they exist. Rest assured though that Micah Fletcher is not one of them. Anyone suggesting otherwise should be ashamed … including a couple of school board members who seem to believe Kitna hung the moon and couldn’t possibly be at fault.
Great leaders rarely, if ever, use their authority to create loyalty, get things done or demand that folks follow. Effective leaders don’t need to be brash, petty or vulgar. They don’t ever convert, even if briefly, to being a victim despite how constant or loud the drumbeat of opposition is and they never look for others to blame. They exude a quiet confidence, have a servant’s heart and carry thoughtful respect for others. The most consequential leaders in history are men and women who, at their core, had the natural ability to cast a clear vision, make crucial decisions decisively, be humble, empower people, communicate well, inspire others and who lived with uncompromising integrity. I think of Jesus, Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher. I think of Bear Bryant and Mother Teresa, Warren Buffett and Derek Jeter. Each cared more about the success of others than their own and they were driven by the desire to make a significant difference in this world.
Jon Kitna and I agree on the essential need for God in all we do. All means always though no matter how hot the seat – or temper - may get from time to time. The coach, whether he knows it or not, never had to compromise the plan he had upon his arrival. He never had to give a shred of energy to the haters and he never had to insult anyone – a player, coach, school board member, peer or hater – to achieve success. Jon Kitna never had, or has, to validate the destructive nature of others by being distracted, angered or vengeful because of idiotic, unruly behaviors ... including, where most of this nonsense started, Evan Brady’s. What Brady did on more than one occasion was wrong and should never be tolerated in any school district. That our school board has two members, same two as mentioned above, that couldn’t, and still can’t, see the obvious need to terminate Brady will forever trouble many in this town, including me. Micah Fletcher did the right thing in reporting Brady regardless of the childish blowback he received from some. Truth is, Jon Kitna should have fired Brady himself and moved on with purpose and passion. It’s just that simple.
Some have suggested, as you can see in letters on this page, tweets on Twitter and comments on Facebook, that the goodwill Jon Kitna has done in Waxahachie somehow negates the story we reported on Wednesday. The good works the coach and his teams have done have been highlighted in this paper time and again since 2015. I’ve used this space to not only do the same but to also defend Jon Kitna from the community raiders who jumped him the minute he arrived yet none of it has anything to do with our story on Wednesday. It’s a shallow, lousy suggestion, one that reveals just how numb society has become to the concept of accountability.
I don’t know what the future holds for Coach Kitna, but I do know this – Waxahachie need never be tattered by what takes place on a football field or in the locker room. Losses will come, passions will flare, criticisms will abound and Monday morning coaches will live on, but great leaders never stop being great leaders. I hope Jon Kitna, and the rest of us for that matter, can learn such a truth. If the ball coach does, he will one day achieve the greatness he told us he would achieve. If he doesn’t, the troubles will forever follow.
And so will the disappointment.