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.

  • guest


  • MrE85

    Somewhere in Clown Heaven, Emmett Kelly is crying.

  • Mike

    Superintendent Ferguson clearly couldn’t reason his way out of a paper bag. Wouldn’t you love to have this guy as a boss?

    Maybe he should turn his attention to banning books or something. At least that would be a task that’s commensurate with his intellectual abilities.

    Trial by social media is turning out to be even dumber than its 20th century cousin: trial by mass media.

  • KTFoley

    “Fired” doesn’t mean “he would lose his job permanently”?


  • Guest

    So we’re not telling kids to get over themselves any more?

  • Michael

    I am confused. None of the young women attending the event were scared by the coaches actions, according to Madison Mart, yet someone after the fact saw the picture on social media and she then got scared, while not there, or she was just appalled at seeing this, and so the Principal fired him instead of saying that no one there was scared, it was investigated and was just fun on the team.

    It makes me wonder if I have to worry about people posting a picture of me at some event doing something innocent and it being taken both out of context and through someone else’s lens for which I will be punished for trying to make someone’s life a little better.

    Are we back to having to fear everything and watch every move because of fear??

  • Mike Worcester

    If I am reading all this correctly, the coach here was not a member of ISD #15 staff but a contracted coach? If so unfortunately he would have little in the way of due process protections that on-staff coaches would have. (EDIT — he was a volunteer coach, not on staff so definitely he does not have the protections that a staff member under contract could have.)

    Obviously that does not make the outcome right, but does explain how the supt. could just simply send a letter and be done with it.

    As for the underlying facts, once again adults are doing a spectacular job of showing kids how *not* to behave and treat their fellow people. Here’s to hoping those students can see that.

  • Gregg Bendtsen

    What a disgusting over reaction! How ironic: This reveals that Superintendent Troy is, in fact, a clown, without the makeup.

  • Anna

    I suppose the great opera, Pagliacci by Giacomo Puccini will have to be rewritten since the main character is a clown. Don’t take your kids to see that one! (sarcasm). You could be traumatizing them for life! (more sarcasm).

    Mime artists better watch out. You’re next.

    We’ve taken political correctness to a whole new level.

    • Jack Ungerleider

      Personally I’m traumatized by all opera. 8^)

      • X.A. Smith

        I am sometimes APPALLED by opera. It can be a major problem.

  • rallysocks

    //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.//

    I have a feeling college is going to be a fraught time in this young woman’s life.

  • BJ

    Maybe if he had the gorilla costume people would have thought he was doing the ‘Harambe’ thing and gotten fired for that.

    PS That Superintendent sounds like an idiot. If wearing a clown mask for a Halloween celebration is a MAJOR problem, thank goodness everything else is perfect in St Francis. (previous Superintendent defrauded the state and still got about $300,000 payout from the district).

  • Veronica

    I will say, as silly as some adults think this is, there are plenty of terrified kids right now, and they are specifically terrified about clowns attacking them in school. My middle school-aged daughter is a very kind soul, and last week she was too scared to go to sleep. When we walk by Halloween costume displays, she has to bury her head in my arm. Other parents are having the same experience. I agree that this should not be taken likely.

    There’s a story–sit down with these kids and hear what THEY have to say about these clowns.

  • American Infidel

    Quick hide run to your safe place at the sight of any clowns! Report them to the authorities, post pics of them on social media so others know to avoid them, lock the doors and windows and hide in the basement! While you’re at it, you better not get caught waddling your stanky, lard butt into McDonalds to get some fast food because Ronald McDonald is watching you.

  • the_logician

    The person with poor judgment here is the superintendent who decided to “discontinue Hildre’s services”. He is contributing to the current hysteria by firing the guy. The proper –and logical– thing to do would be to come out and tell the frightened student, and the community, “Nothing wrong has been done here. People with easily offended sensibilities should stay away from social media outlets if the possibility of seeing something there might cause you distress.” But no. This superintendent instead takes a good teachable moment and squanders it; ruining a volunteers reputation and angering most of his school district. If he loses his position in the next election it will be deservedly so.