Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
I am writing about an incident that took place at the high school well over a year ago. In April 2011, I met with high school principal Steve Nixon and brought to his attention the unprofessional conduct of a varsity coach who was berating and using foul language as a method to motivate student athletes. I requested that the principal speak with the entire team of players and the assistant coach to get a better perspective on the coach’s inappropriate behavior. Mr. Nixon agreed and said he would follow through with my request. I left the meeting encouraged by his willingness to review the matter.
In a letter to me that month, Mr. Nixon said he had limited his interviews to just the current senior varsity players and found that the coach did nothing to warrant termination. When I inquired as to his reason for limiting his interviews to just the senior players and not the entire team, I was told that the matter was closed.
I arranged to meet with schools superintendent James H. Weiss and brought the matter to his attention. As with Mr. Nixon, Mr. Weiss did not conduct a thorough investigation as promised and stated that he found no reason to terminate the coach at the time. He did say that he was disappointed by the responsiveness of the high school administration and would work with them and all the administrators to be more involved and responsive in matters such as this.
I asked the superintendent whether he had spoken to all the student athletes and assistant coach as promised, and although his initial written response was vague, he eventually confirmed that he did not speak with all the student players and assistant coach. I made numerous attempts to reach out to both the principal and the superintendent for an explanation, only to have my requests ignored.
It was unfortunate to see a student athlete who has played in a sport since junior high decide not to play by senior year; one senior quit mid-season and another player does not intend to return next year. The summer program, which usually has enough players to form their own league, barely had enough players to make up one team this year.
Playing a varsity sport is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We all hope our children as student athletes can build leadership qualities and self confidence and will be mentored by people they trust, respect and admire as role models.
Is the high school administration ensuring that these values are being instilled by all the varsity coaches? I think not.