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04-09-03: Coldwater coach controversy continues to swirl
The Daily Standard
    COLDWATER - School district residents continue to want to discuss the Coldwater High School basketball program, but board of education members clearly are not comfortable talking about the issue in public.
    Resident Janet Gels renewed complaints she made two weeks ago that there are problems in the coaching ranks of the boys basketball program due to the resignations of a couple of long-time assistant coaches during the past two seasons. At Tuesday's regular school board meeting, others joined her in calling for the school board to at least investigate their concerns.
    Exactly what people are upset about remains unclear; no specific allegations have been made.
    Athletic Director Eric Goodwin told The Daily Standard for a recent story that any turmoil within the coaching ranks is due to "differences in coaching philosophies."
    Gels spoke briefly Tuesday, calling on board members and administration officials to address her concerns.
    "It looks like Coldwater has a serious problem within our athletic program," Gels said.
    At one point as she was speaking, board President Jerry Meyer banged his gavel to cut her off for identifying specific school employees. Gels reminded him that she named no names.
    "You might as well have," Meyer said before allowing her to continue.
    School board members apparently believe there is no trouble within head coach Don Vogt's program worthy of removing the coach.
    "It's unfortunate our coaches are criticized as much as they are," Meyer said. "I'm not going to get on the bandwagon and fire someone because they made a few mistakes that can be corrected. We're not going to respond to complaints that don't have the support we need to take action. There is nothing here I would fire a coach over."
    Board member Floyd Winner took the same stance. "I'm not out to get anybody's head," he said.
    But resident Paul Howell said concerned citizens do not necessarily want Vogt fired, they simply want school officials to respond to them. As for criticism of coaches, that is an "occupational hazard of coaching," Howell said.
    "These complaints have been made and nothing has been done," Howell said. "The administration is not dealing properly with these problems."
    Superintendent Eric Hoffman said the school has dealt with the issue internally as it does any personnel issue. Goodwin said there are complaints about every coach on his staff and that he listens to public concerns and weighs them appropriately when evaluating coaches.
    Not everyone believes there are problems in the basketball program though.
    Theresa Heyne said her son played for Vogt's team this past season and had no problems with the coach.
    "He loved the man," Heyne said, noting that Vogt has proven himself to be honest and forthright with his players.
    Residents critical of coaches should step back and let them do their job, Heyne added.
    Vogt attended the board meeting but did not speak. The Daily Standard contacted him this morning, but he declined to comment on the issue.
    A source within the district, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Standard today that problems are not isolated to the basketball program and other resignations are possible. The coaches have come under intense scrutiny and pressure from district residents who meddle in their programs, the source said.
    Hoffman acknowledged "a tremendous supplemental shortage," meaning the district is struggling to fill coaching vacancies. The volleyball staff resigned recently and girls basketball coach Amy Meyer has quit, although the board has not acted on her resignation.
    "We're more than willing to look at applications," Hoffman told a crowd of about three dozen.
    Also Tuesday, Richard Baker from the Ohio Department of Education presented the district with an award for attaining excellent status on statewide school district report cards for the second year in a row. Five of six school districts in Mercer County are in line to receive the award.
    "You all need to be thankful you live in western Ohio because of the way the families are - intact families with two parents," Baker said.
    "It's everybody. It's the community, it's the teachers, it's the students," Hoffman said.


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