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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)
VIRGINIA BEACH — Longtime high school coach Ken Whitley was injured and briefly hospitalized Monday night after a run-in with a high school basketball player and his mother at Green Run High. The participants widely disagree on what happened.
A former state champion wrestler at Norfolk's Norview High, where he played on a state championship football team, Whitley has been coaching in Norfolk and Virginia Beach since 1968. The 73-year-old is believed to be the region's longest-tenured coach.
Whitley went by ambulance to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital with a possible concussion, neck strain, abrasions on his face and head, a swollen ear and a broken nose. He said he was suffering from dizziness Wednesday afternoon.
He briefly lost consciousness, according to his wife, Karen Whitley, who released photos of her husband's injuries.
Whitley swore out an arrest warrant Tuesday against Christy Kieschnick, 42, of Virginia Beach who says she is a senior chief in the Navy Reserve. She was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery. Her son, a juvenile, faces the same charges.
Kieschnick said by phone that her son retaliated after Whitley choked him and that she intends to file charges. She denied striking Whitley, as he claimed when he filed charges.
Whitley denied choking her son, saying, "My fingers are so arthritic that my wife has to open a jar of peanut butter for me."
Whitley, an assistant wrestling coach at Norview, drives other Norview athletic teams to events in a bus. He had driven the Norview basketball team to Green Run on Monday for a summer league game and was attempting to park when witnesses said his bus ran into Kieschnick's car.
From there, the accounts diverge.
Kieschnick said Whitley was uncooperative when she was trying to get his insurance information. Whitley said he did cooperate. They both agree that after exchanging information, she walked back into Green Run.
Whitley said her son angrily approached him three times, then went back into the school and returned a fourth time. Each time, Whitley said, the juvenile cursed and threatened him.
Whitley said he got off the bus, pointed at the juvenile and asked, "Do you know who I am?"
"A lot of people know who I am and I was hoping that would diffuse the situation," Whitley said.
Instead, Whitley said, the juvenile slapped his finger away. "He then clubbed me with three swings of the fist," Whitley said. "I went right down and saw stars. I grabbed onto his leg and he just kept pummeling me. I told him, 'I give; you win,' but he just kept on punching me."
Whitley said he finally tripped the juvenile, who skirted away and tried to kick him in the face before leaving.
"There was a crowd of about 100 people around, laughing at me, just waiting to see if I would get up," Whitley said.
Whitley said he managed to get back on the bus and was talking with a 911 operator when Christy Kieschnick climbed aboard screaming: "You choked my baby." Then, according to Whitley, she "knocked my lights out."
He said she broke his nose and sent his cellphone flying to the other end of the bus.
"I was covered in blood," he said. "I can't imagine she was thinking I choked her son."
Kieschnick, though, said Whitley "came off the bus, grabbed my son by the neck and started choking him. I have a beaucoup of witnesses that will attest to that. My son retaliated."
While she said she doesn't condone her son's actions, Kieschnick said Whitley "has made up a story ... and gotten all of Norfolk in an uproar."
She said both she and her son have received threats via social media. She denied hitting Whitley, saying she knocked his cell phone away because he was waving it in her face.
"He's trying to denigrate my name," she said. "I've got two jobs and a lot of people who can speak to my character. "
She said she is to be deployed to Afghanistan later this month but now has a June 6 court date on the charges .
"I'm an AAU basketball coach," she said. "I don't go around punching 70-year-olds. He thought he had some slum rat and that he could take advantage of that. I'm not going to allow it."
Whitley was formerly the head football coach at Norview and Princess Anne high schools. He also was an assistant coach at Norview and Lake Taylor high schools. He was a longtime wrestling coach at Norview and led the Pilots to the 1975 state championship.
Khalilah LeGrand, a spokeswoman for Norfolk Public Schools, said in statement that school officials were "very disturbed to learn about the alleged assault on Coach Whitley. Our thoughts are with him and we hope for his quick recovery."
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