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Gajewski has nowhere to hide until he makes things right with Kelly Maxwell
Almost as interesting as Oklahoma State Softball coach Kenny Gajewski’s comments about Kelly Maxwell’s transfer to Oklahoma is the way those comments first came to light.
Reportedly, Gajewski spoke for 15 minutes at an Oklahoma City event called “A Night With OSU,” which, according to a pre-event press release was to encompass “a panel that includes representatives from Oklahoma State University, OSU Athletics, the OSU Alumni Association and the OSU Foundation.”
For those 15 minutes, he apparently won over Oklahoma State’s student newspaper, “The O’Colly,” with the idea he’d come to terms with Maxwell, an All-American pitcher and the Big 12’s best the last few years everywhere but Norman, transferring out of the Cowgirl program.
Like, here’s the first two sentences of the student paper’s story.
It’s OK that Kelly Maxwell doesn’t play at OSU anymore.
That was the message OSU softball coach Kenny Gajewski delivered Thursday night to those in attendance at “A Night With OSU” in Oklahoma City.
It was, though, funny, how no included quotes from Gajewski quite backed up that opening
Because here’s one:
“I didn’t feel like that at first. I’ll just be very honest. I was upset like most of you guys were upset … But if you don’t want to be here, go away. I don’t want you here if you don’t want to be here and wear this logo and represent this school.”
And here’s another:
“I think the biggest thing that we’re dealing with now with these young kids – and they’re still kids, they’re still young – is that they just can’t get out and kinda see 10 years down this road. They kinda see what’s under their feet.”
I guess, but isn’t Maxwell 23 years old?
It’s wasn’t until the end of the story The O’Colly went with Gajewski’s money quote and, though you may know it, here it is again:
“My only disappointment for Kelly is that she went to OU, because now she’s lost everything here that she’s ever done. And as long as I’m here, it’ll be hard for her to come back here. That’s just the way it is.”
Yeah, he’s totally over it.
Actually, it’s best if he’s not.
Indeed, let’s hope Gajewski’s not remotely over it, but that when he is a heartfelt apology will be forthcoming, telling Maxwell and a college softball nation she’ll be allowed back in the fold, should she want back in, as soon as her final season of collegiate softball concludes.
Let’s hope this because if a 180 doesn’t happen, Gajewski will be revealed as the the pettiest softball coach we’ve ever known, because never has a diamond skipper been so wrong on so many levels.
Begin with the irony.
Just as Maxwell’s now a Sooner, you know who is, too?
He will never not be a member of OU’s 1994 national championship baseball team.
When I began covering OU, he was the guy in charge of the Sooner athletic fields and he and his crew did tremendous work. Everybody knew him and everybody liked him.
The guy who brought him into coaching is Tim Walton, also a Sooner, also a member of that same ’94 national championship team.
Walton got his start as Patty Gasso’s hitting coach, helping OU claim the 2000 national championship and return to the Women’s College World Series the next two seasons before beginning his head coaching path at Wichita State and eventually finding his way to Florida, where he won the 2014 and ’15 national championships.
Sure, Gajewski’s not competing with his old program as OSU’s softball coach, just his old school, but for crying out loud, close enough for some freaking grace.
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Next, not only is he being horrendously ugly to an athlete who’s done more for him than he ever did for her, that ugliness doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
Maxwell just completed her redshirt senior season in Stillwater, meaning she’s already been in the program five years and been the Cowgirls No. 1 pitcher four.
She’s also graduated, in biochemistry and molecular biology — HOLY FREAKIN’ COW — making her exactly the type of athlete everybody agreed should be granted free movement even before the transfer portal blew the system wide open.
Now, take a closer look at Gajewski’s quote.
“… because now she’s lost everything here that she’s ever done.”
If that remains his sentiment, he should be on his way out of Stillwater, too.
Maxwell’s in the record books.
She tossed 494 2/3 inning with an earned run average of 1.58. She won 58 games, including World Series games. She’s a program icon. But her old coach wants to erase her from the place?
“… as long as I’m here, it’ll be hard for her to come back here. That’s just the way it is.”
Gajewski’s bigger than the program he coaches?
Did he invent softball in Stillwater. Is he the sheriff of Payne County, too?
For him, his program, his university.
No coach should be this hurt by a graduate transfer, even to an archrival, especially one who’s done all the things Maxwell’s done.
But let’s hope that’s all it is: hurt.
Because hurt can pass and the Cowgirl skipper needs to get past this.
Until he does, and apologizes, this is who he is and it’s not pretty.
He may have snowed the student paper, but there’s no getting around it.
He’s wrong and needs to make it right.