ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea got into some hot water when he posted a comment to Facebook about the Patrick Henry girls winning the Region 5D basketball title Monday night.
Lea said he called up Patrick Henry girls basketball coach Mike Hedrick on Tuesday, Feb. 16 to tell him he is sorry.
Then, Tuesday evening, he was at the PH girls basketball practice and apologized to the entire team.
Hedrick posted on his Facebook page Tuesday night congratulations to his team winning back-to-back regional titles.
Lea then posted, “please note a lot of good basketball programs in the state are not playing basketball no Richmond city schools playing. because of COVID-19 everything won this year needs an asterisk by it.”
Hedrick responded, “How about as mayor you support our city youth on a great accomplishment instead of tearing people down?”
We here at WFXR News got a lot of feedback from viewers not pleased with Lea’s comments. We also spoke to a couple of parents of PH players off camera. They say they were disappointed in the mayor.
On Tuesday afternoon, we spoke to Lea:
He says it was intended as a joke and he thought he was sending the post to Hedrick privately.
“It was a joke that probably went too far. I misread on how it was going to be received but I apologized to him,” said Lea. “I called him and we had a long discussion with him and I said, ‘man I am sorry and I didn’t say you were not going to win it.’ I said, ‘if you win it the big guys up there are going to say put an asterisk beside it’ and it was like a joke. I didn’t mean for it to be serious but I do apologize for it. I should have known better.”
Lea also says he’s a big supporter of sports in the Roanoke Valley — especially when it comes to the young athletes in the valley.
We tried to get an on-camera response from Hedrick, but Roanoke City Public Schools officials wouldn’t let Hedrick respond to the post.