Georgia Tech coach Brent Key charged with emotion addressing Nashville tragedy

Laying bare his emotions, Georgia Tech coach Brent Key made an impassioned plea for change Wednesday following the tragic shooting deaths at a Nashville school on Monday.

“As long as people sit up there and bicker and argue, more and more kids are going to die,” Key said. “Because it hasn’t changed. Something’s got to change. Everybody, please do something.”

The shooting deaths of three third-grade children, a school administrator, a substitute teacher and a custodian clearly hit home with Key. His mother was a longtime third-grade teacher and he and his wife Danielle have a four-year-old daughter Harper. Key spoke of how Danielle cried four or five times on Monday and how Harper was at a school play at the time of the shootings.

“It’s the most heartbreaking thing in the world to think about your daughter going to school,” Key said, his voice choked up. “She’s supposed to be safe and protected. This is (nonsense), man. It is. I’m sorry. I don’t care who tweets at me or says something, I really don’t.”

Key refrained from advocating a particular stance on how to stop the epidemic of school shootings. According to the Associated Press, Monday’s deaths at the Covenant School marked the eighth mass killing at a K-12 school since 2006 in which four or more people were killed within a 24-hour period.

“I don’t want to sit here and make any political statements or any religious statements,” he said at the beginning of his unscripted statement. “I will not do that. But something’s got to change.”

Key addressed media following his team’s fifth practice of the spring. He had been planning to make a statement on the tragedy since Monday, the day of the shootings, using the platform afforded him as one of the state’s most high-profile sportsmen. He had been scheduled to speak Friday but his post-practice media availability was moved to Wednesday for unrelated reasons.

“If one person hears me say that and agrees and does something to help force a change, something to happen and a 1,000 other people say something negative about it, I don’t care,” Key said. “Because it worked. And if this one thing can help somebody else say something and have the guts to stand up and say something, maybe (give) somebody the guts to stand up and do something!” – here, Key’s voice boomed - “then maybe something will happen.”

An earlier version of this story misstated that the scheduling for Georgia Tech coach Brent Key’s media address Wednesday was related to the shootings.