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Seminole Ridge seniors cut from baseball team, then reinstated after outrage

7 seniors back on team 2 weeks after being cut by coach
Seminole Ridge baseball player runs bases
Posted at 6:04 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 23:35:22-05

LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. — It's play ball again for a group of Palm Beach County students. They're back on their high school baseball team after some parents claim the seniors were unfairly cut by their coach.

"We'd like answers," Mark Hopwood said.

After two weeks of uncertainty, Hopwood said his child is one of seven seniors reinstated on the Seminole Ridge Community High School varsity baseball team.

"For some unknown reason they decided to cut almost all the seniors," he said.

Hopwood said six of the seven seniors had played all three years at the school. After learning that head coach Trent Pendergast had cut seven seniors, parents posted their frustrations to a private neighborhood Facebook group that garnered more than 500 comments.

"A lot of these kids had opportunities with colleges moving forward that now are all in jeopardy," Hopwood said. "So, you know, we took this to the principal and the county athletic director (and) truly got nowhere from there."

After two weeks of complaints, the seven seniors were reinstated to the team by the school's principal before Wednesday night's school board meeting. Hopwood said they still want answers as to why the students were initially cut from the team.

Seminole Ridge Community High School sign
File photo of Seminole Ridge Community High School in Palm Beach County during the 2022-23 academic year.

"Do I know why it happened? No, I don't," he said. "Do I have my own personal opinions why it happened? Yes, I do."

At Wednesday night's meeting, parents showed up with signs, some reading, "Pay 2 Play No More."

A parent from the team sent WPTV an email that shows Pendergast's school email being used to invite a student to a summer training program not affiliated with the school district.

"He will get great coaching and great exposure for colleges," the email reads, in part.

It goes on to say that Pendergast "can work with him to get him ready for varsity baseball."

WPTV requested to speak with Pendergast about the situation. A representative for the School District of Palm Beach County declined but said the email is not a violation of policy and that no investigation on the situation by professional standards is being done at this time.

"I saw that he gave a fair opportunity for a lot of kids," Donnie Frank said.

Frank said his son graduated from the program last year and went on to play baseball at Florida Atlantic University.

"In the four years that I watched him coach, I never saw anything that was out of control or abusive," he said.

School board member Marcia Andrews said she is pleased the students are back on the team and is working with the principal to understand what happened.