A long-time Newton County Recreation coach has been dismissed from his coaching duties and arrested after admitting to using drugs during a probation meeting.
Keith "Tino" Eric Blackstock, 29, was originally arrested in 2008 and charged with cultivation of marijuana. He was placed on probation after being released from jail and as part of that probation is subject to random drug tests, one of which he failed recently. Blackstock was arrested on Monday and charged with probation violation. As of press time he remains in the Newton County Detention Center.
According to Tommy Hailey, Director of the Newton County Recreation Department, when he was made aware of Blackstock’s arrest, he immediately made the decision to remove him as a coach and enlisted the help of some other coaches to work with Blackstock’s teams during the current recreational baseball season.
Blackstock has been working with the rec. department and was head and part-time coach for the last eight to nine years off and on, according to Hailey. The department was aware of his criminal history but Blackstock was able to explain the charges in a way that made Hailey comfortable with his coaching. Additionally, many people in the community had stepped up and vouched for Blackstock.
“I hate that he chose to go down this path,” said Hailey. “He let a lot of people down, including a lot of our staff, and he let his teams down and the parents who had put a little trust in him. When a situation like this happens it is the teams – the kids — who are the ones most affected.”
Blackstock was coaching both a training and a pee wee league (both are for 4-year-olds) during this baseball season. Like many coaches who volunteer their time at the rec. department, he was taking on a lot because there is a shortage of people who are interested in coaching.
“We went to bat for him and I really thought that he was to the point that he had his life turned around but apparently he doesn’t,” said Hailey. “My only hope and prayer is that if he has a problem, he gets some help.
“He needs to realize that he’s hurt a lot of people,” Hailey continued. “He was given a second chance — which is more than a lot of people would get. We want our coaches to try and be role models as much as they can and he’s let not only those kids but the recreation department down as well. Nobody wins in this situation.”