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03-27-03: Basketball coaching issues up in air
The Daily Standard
    COLDWATER - Residents are starting to talk but Coldwater Exempted Village Schools officials are staying relatively quiet about alleged dissension in the ranks of the high school boys basketball program.
    Resident Janet Gels, 507 N. Second St., brought the issue up at Tuesday's school board meeting, reading from a prepared statement. In the statement, Gels laments the resignations of some basketball assistant coaches both this season and a year ago.
    "We feel we have a real problem. How could it have happened that we lose three coaches in two years? Two of those coaches are hometown guys who love the sport, love to coach and love the kids," Gels said.
    Gels' statement goes on to suggest that head coach Don Vogt is responsible for the dissension in the coaching ranks. Gels said she was representing a number of people who, for various reasons, did not want to speak at the school board meeting. She promised to return to the next meeting "with lots of supporters."
    The two "hometown" coaches Gels was speaking of are Jerry Kanney and Nick Fisher. Kanney resigned a year ago; Fisher resigned after the recently completed basketball season. Both were assistants under Vogt.
    Vogt, a special education teacher, has been with the district for two years.
    "Last year, when Jerry Kanney resigned, red flags should have gone up," Gels said. "When Nick Fisher resigned, bells and whistles should have gone off."
    Coldwater administration officials are avoiding talking about the issue, saying Gels did not follow the proper procedure for making her complaints. Under the negotiated contract with the Coldwater Teacher's Organiza-tion, employee complaints must first be brought to the employee or to the employee's supervisor, Superintendent Eric Hoffman told The Daily Standard.
    "We have a complaint process. We have communications channels in place to deal with these type of things," Hoffman said.
    Hoffman said he spent this morning "asking questions," but would not say specifically how he is dealing with the situation. When asked if there have been concerns raised about the basketball program by people other than Gels, he replied, "There's always concerns with any program no matter what."
    Hoffman said he would see if the parties involved in the issue want to set up a meeting to discuss their concerns.
    Fisher's recent resignation letter sheds no light on the situation and gives no specific reason for his departure. Hoffman said Fisher has privately divulged his reasons for leaving, but the superintendent would not disclose them.
    Athletic Director Eric Goodwin said he has spoken with Vogt and the former assistant coaches. Goodwin termed any turmoil within the program as "differences in coaching philosophy."
    "It's something we're going to continue to look at," Goodwin said, but would not offer specifics.
    Gels and her supporters claim the trouble has decreased participation in boys basketball. Her statement says the varsity squad had only eight players while about 60 boys played Catholic Youth Organization basketball this past season.
    "Our program is crumbling before our eyes," Gels said.
    No decision on Vogt's future as basketball coach has been made, Goodwin said. Typically, Goodwin said he waits until after a team's after-season banquet to evaluate coaches.
    "I haven't done his evaluation yet so I don't know," Goodwin responded when pressed about Vogt's future.
    Goodwin also downplayed any suggestion that the problems in the coaching ranks are related to the team's early exit from the post season tournament. The team was 15-5 during the regular season but lost its last regular season and the sectional tournament opening round game both to Lima Central Catholic to end the Cavaliers' season.
    Gels also said the issue is not about wins and losses.
    "Ask the players, they were frustrated all season. They were glad the season ended," she said in her statement.


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