Ken Countryman, the attorney of Hamilton High School football player Nathaniel Thomas, 17, was joined by the teen’s family and friends after the Thomas was granted a bond by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge Wednesday afternoon.
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Nathaniel William Thomas, 17, arrested on criminal charges in connection with an assault investigation at Chandler Hamilton High School, was released on bond from a Maricopa County jail on April 6, 2017. Logan Newman/azcentral.com
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Initial court appearance of Nathaniel William Thomas, 17, who was charged with several felony counts in a case which began with allegations of hazing at Hamilton High School in Chandler. Maricopa County Superior Court
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Here’s what we know about the Hamilton High School hazing arrests.
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Attorney defends charged Hamilton player
Nathaniel Thomas released from jail
Nathaniel Thomas’s initial court appearance
Here’s what we know about the Hamilton High arrests
Three Hamilton football players – two last week — have transferred up Arizona Avenue to Chandler High.
Coach Steve Belles, who led Hamilton to five state championships from 2006-12, sits at home, while the Chandler Unified School District decides his fate. Belles was placed on home reassignment last week and has been given a muzzle to not talk to the media by the school district.
Spring football begins on May 1 for a team rocked by recent arrests and allegations. Two weeks ago, six players were arrested for alleged criminal acts linked to hazing incidents during a 17-month span. Three of those players — two in juvenile courts and one as an adult — were charged with assaulting team members.
School and district administrators have said they are restricted from speaking about the case while the investigations are ongoing but Chandler Superintendent Camille Casteel released a statement after the arrests saying that she was troubled to learn students felt unsafe and vulnerable. “We will get to the bottom of this and, more importantly, will take whatever corrective action is necessary,” she wrote.
But as the criminal cases move through the legal system and the district continues its investigation into Belles, the players who remain on the team are trying to focus on leading their peers through an uncertain time.
Quarterback Tyler Shough, a 6-foot-5 junior who received offers from Michigan, Missouri and Washington State within the span of a week, said leadership skills have never been more important.
“Our team and coaches are staying positive, enthusiastic, and unified,” Shough said.
Shough said that assistant principal Dick Baniszewski is leading the football program while Belles is away.
“Our goal is to stay together and be positive all we can,” Shough said. “We’re doing well. We’ll be a lot closer.”
Shough and junior running back Jawhar Jordan are Hamilton’s top two 2018 football recruits. Jordan tweeted last week that he is going to finish what he started and stay at Hamilton.
Glenn Shough, Tyler’s dad, said that he is now seeing “what good decision-making is doing for you,” with Shough leading players on and off the field, making sure they stay positive.
“We have certain parental requirements,” Glenn said. “He is naturally a good kid. He’s mature and gets the big picture.”
Former Hamilton quarterback Travis Lockhart, who led the Huskies offense in 2015 and is now at Colorado School of Mines, was asked about the football culture.
“Nothing was going on like that while I was there in the varsity locker room,” Lockhart said in an electronic message.
Former major league pitcher Jamie Brewington’s son Chase, a senior, was one of the state’s top receivers last season. Jamie said that he is happy with the kids who are staying at Hamilton.
“The ones leaving, I support them, too,” he said.
The elder Shough says the biggest advice he gives his son is to stay loyal,
“Control the things you can control,” Glenn Shough said. “Continue to have a good attitude. Since he has a leadership role, he has to stay confident, be a good communicator.
“Loyalty is really important. We teach that a lot. He is devoted to his craft. He works out really hard and seems to be devoted to be a better player. He has older sisters who made the mold. One is a doctor and another is in the medical field. They’re hard-working girls.”
Suggest human interest stories to Richard Obert at [email protected] or 602-316-8827. Follow him at azc_obert