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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Support shown for USA's Houthoofd

SEBEWAING — The recent non-renewal of Unionville-Sebewaing Area varsity softball coach Lary Houthoofd’s contract for the 2012 spring season incited an outcry from many in the community. During the regular USA board of education meeting Monday, about 60 to 70 people attended and several spoke in support of the embattled coach.
“(People’s) support is fundamentally based on a respect for a coach who has built this program into a perennial super power in girls high school softball,” said community member John Neuman. “His overall record includes 227 wins against only 26 losses. His teams have won three state championships, six regional titles, six district titles and has won or tied for the league title every year. ... But the support for Coach Lary is because of much more than this winning record. Anyone that really knows Lary knows that deep down, he would do anything to help make his players grow and develop into better players. His commitment to the program in the amount of time, energy, passion and effort is unquestionable. ... His players play hard for him, respect him and know if they follow his instruction he will lead the team to success.
“What more can you really ask of a coach?”
Some of the softball players also spoke in support of their beloved coach, including a tearful Jessica Gremel.
“I have more respect for him than any other coach. ... I don’t want to be with any other coach in my senior year (next year),” Gremel said. “I don’t know what’s all happening (here).”
Superintendent Dr. Kip Walker said the non-renewal of Houthoofd’s contract is “probably not official.” The recommendation came from high school Principal George Rierson and Athletic Director Mark Gainforth in late May. Many parents already have met with Rierson, Gainforth and Walker about the situation.
Walker noted Houthoofd was not fired, because if he had been, he would’ve been done coaching immediately, rather than being allowed to finish out the season.
Many in the audience were hoping for the board to bring some closure to the issue, but Board President Lori Kemp said the board was not making any decision about Houthoofd’s contract at Monday’s meeting. She said the board, however, was interested in gathering public input on the issue.
“We know this is a difficult situation,” Kemp said. “We have listened to your comments and have taken them to heart. We all have the same goal in mind — to do what’s best for all of our students.”
Walker said the next step is to have the school administration meet with Houthoofd and his attorney to list the specific reasons behind the non-renewal. At that time, Houthoofd and/or his attorney can respond to the allegations.
After the meeting with administration, the school district attorney will make a recommendation to the school board, Walker said. He will recommend one of three things — no action, a decision to reverse the non-renewal and keep Houthoofd or a decision to uphold the administration’s recommendation for non-renewal.
Also after the meeting with administration, which has yet to be scheduled, Houthoofd would have the opportunity to take the matter to the school board. He would be able to choose between having an open or closed session.
When audience members asked Walker to name the reasons behind the contract non-renewal, Walker said by law he could not name them. He said people need to get that information from Houthoofd, if the coach is willing to share the information.


Bodeen said...

As a former Huron County resident I have followed all HC sports. The "letting go" of the USA softball coach is beyond me in terms of common sense. We teach our kids to work hard to achieve things and what he has done with that program is just amazing. Whatever criteria was used by the school soop and AD should be reviewed by some peers from around the county. There seems to be a possible "personal issue" here, although the parties would probably deny it. Makes no sense. Keep the guy as long as he does things the right way and the parents of the athletes sign off as well. It's OK to admit when you are wrong. It's not OK to Not correct a mistake. What are we teaching the kids about decision making?

Anonymous said...

well said

Anonymous said...

It's odd that the superintendent stated that
"the non-renewal of Houthoofd’s contract is “probably not official.” Last time I checked the roles of the principal and athletic director is to advise the superintendent; the one who makes the decision. The superintendant's statement tells me that he is either very ill informed by his staff or willing to throw them under the bus to deflect blame. In my estimation, the administration of USA schools owes Lary Houthoofd a very public and profound apolgy

Anonymous said...

They wanted to go in another direction!
What failure?