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Gary, North baseball coaches fired

Kamphouse coaching team for remainder of 2016 season

March 29, 2016
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The nearly two-year tenure of Tavaris Gary as the North Fort Myers High School baseball coach has been stormy to say the least.

For the rest of this season, one-time North baseball coach Gary Kamphouse is handling the coaching duties.

Two racially charged incidents off the field drifted a large cloud over any of the accomplishments the team might have earned on the field.

Late last Thursday, Gary and his two assistant coaches, Mike Washington and Christian Martinez, were dismissed, according to a spokesperson for the Lee County School District.

"Principals have complete discretion over coaching positions and can release at will, with or without cause, a coaching position," said Jason Sill, supervisor of communications and production for the school district. "Tavaris Gary will continue to serve as a teacher at the school."

When Gary was hired, he became the first black head baseball coach since Lee County schools desegregated in 1969. His tenure was marred by two incidents that earned the program negative press.

Last May, a Snapchat video circulated of David Bechtol, Gary's predecessor at North and who is white, taking a sledgehammer to a wall in his home with a caricature drawing of Gary, featuring enlarged lips and a noose around his neck.

Bechtol said he was upset over losing his coaching position, but that his actions weren't racially motivated.

Last month, a player discovered graffiti on the home dugout that included a swastika and racial comments. That incident is still under investigation by the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

Principal Matt Mederios showed support for his coach following that incident, but what happened between then and now is a mystery.

A graduate of North's Class of 2000, Gary played minor-league baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals organization before returning home to coach last season.

In 2015, he led a senior-laden team to a 9-13 record. The Red Knights were 5-13 at the time of the firing last week.

Gary was unable to coach his final game at Charlotte High School on Wednesday, as his wife reportedly was in a car accident that day.

Attempts to contact Mederios and Gary were unsuccessful.



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