SPORTS & MORE: 5 KWHS TEAMS LOSE COACHES

Key West High School athletic director Justin Martin needs to hire coaches for five sports, including the girls soccer team he coached this past year. RALPH MORROW/Keys Weekly

It’s that time of year, when high school coaches consider other occupations or locations.

Such is the case at Key West High School, where athletic director Justin Martin is looking to replace coaches in five sports.

Boys basketball coach Chris Ellis has resigned after one season. “I’m heading back to St.Louis,” Ellis told me. “This is my son’s last year in school. I think I should be with him.” Tennis coaches Gary and Nancy Curry also are moving on after one season.

Stacey Pillari’s departure comes as no surprise. She launched the girls weightlifting program four years ago, when her seniors were freshmen. Pillari was planning to pursue other avenues last year, but the team convinced her to stay through their graduation this month. She’ll remain in the area working as a real estate agent.

Dave Perkins did the school a favor last fall, when he agreed to coach cross country in addition to track and field. Perkins won’t be coaching cross country next fall.

Finally, Martin needs to replace himself as the girls soccer coach. The athletic director said he enjoyed coaching, but won’t do both jobs again. 

Martin got married last weekend to Lexi Archer. The pair met when both were students at Key West High School and have been together for five years. Best wishes to the newlyweds.

Bring her home

Enough already. Bring Brittney Griner home from Russia, where she’s been imprisoned since February. The pro-basketball all-star and two-time Olympic gold medalist was caught in a Moscow airport with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil, which is illegal in Russia.

Our government – the United States government – needs to get her out now. Negotiate a prisoner exchange if that’s what it takes. 

Griner, now 31, was a star at Baylor University, then drafted by Phoenix into the Women’s NBA. She’s said to be worth $3 million to $5 million. 

But none of this should mean anything while she’s imprisoned in Russia. Just get her out.

Unfortunately, the WNBA is not a money-maker — nor are its players, who for years have earned healthy sums by playing in Russia during the off-season.

Among the highest-paid players in the WNBA, Griner makes about $250,000 a year in Phoenix — and four times that abroad.

I’m not smart enough to prescribe a solution, but once we get Griner home, maybe the U.S. should reconsider its rules for American athletes playing abroad. 

Heat wave

Here’s one for the pro leagues. The Florida Panthers and the Miami Heat both have won their playoffs, but unfortunately are scheduled to play four games at the same time. Fix it, NHL and NBA. Fans of both sports would like to watch both teams.

Prep problem

And one for the Florida High School Athletic Association. The Key West High School baseball and softball teams each played the same night at Rex Weech and The Backyard, respectively, last week. Not fair at all. Plenty of fans follow both teams and would have watched both games. Moving one game to the afternoon would have created a great day of sports in Key West.

No Rich Strike

I’m sorry, though not too sorry, that Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike was pulled from Saturday’s Preakness. It was once common for the Derby winner to come back two weeks later for Preakness, and, if successful, three weeks after that for the possible Triple Crown at the Belmont. But that isn’t necessarily so any more. An 80-1 shot, as Rich Strike was at Churchill Downs, isn’t likely to win again two weeks later. Says who? Says me. Maybe they can get the Derby and Preakness winners to battle it out at the Belmont.

NBA Hurt League

The NBA playoffs have turned into a soccer tournament. Each game seems to produce another longtime injury. Most recent was Gary Payton II, who broke his arm and will be out for the rest of the playoffs. It’s amazing Memphis did so well after Ja Morant, its best player, was injured.

Golden State had to reshape after star Steph Curry went out for a few games. (It did.)
The Warriors also had to play without their coach, Steve Kerr, who was lost for a week to COVID-19.
And so it goes.

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Veteran sports columnist Ralph Morrow says the only sport he doesn’t follow is cricket. That leaves plenty of others to fill his time.