Clown mask takes out a soccer coach

The Great Clown Scare of 2016 has taken down a guy who was giving his time to help kids.

Fox 9 News reports St. Francis High School has fired Ben Hildre, coach of the JV girl’s soccer team, because he wore a clown mask.

He wouldn’t have done it if the gorilla costume he normally wears for some annual team tradition hadn’t been damaged.

His team took a picture of him and everything seemed fine until — you’ll want to sit down for this — it got posted on social media.

The student who made the initial report to the superintendent tells Fox 9 she was “appalled” that an adult would wear a clown mask, in light of the reports of scary clown sightings across the country. She says when she found out the person wearing the mask was the school’s soccer coach, she reached out to the superintendent.

Independent School District 15 Superintendent Troy Ferguson defends the decision to discontinue Hildre’s services.

“We all make mistakes and this was a big one,” said Ferguson. “Kids are scared and it’s not okay for adults to be part of that to make kids scared.”

Ben Hildre’s team now rallies behind their coach.

“It was a joke, none of us felt threatened at all,” said Madison Mart, a St. Francis High School senior.

“It’s just sad that they took this out of proportion and got rid of him,” said Elsie Johnson, a St. Francis High School senior.

“All I really want is to teach these girls, build up their self-esteem, have fun at the sport and enjoy,” the coach told the TV station. He said he started coaching the team a couple of years ago to spend more time with his daughter.

The school superintendent said the letter he sent to the coach didn’t say he would lose his job permanently.

There’s no word on how the gorilla costume got damaged.