SAD 29 assistant coach seat remains open

16 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — After nearly a four hour wait at the SAD 29 school board meeting Monday night, the Houlton-Hodgdon Black Hawks cooperative hockey program is still in limbo as to whether it has an assistant coach for next season.
    Mitchell Holmes has worked alongside Houlton-Hodgdon Black Hawks coach Joel Trickey for the last five years. Holmes’ job now appears in jeopardy because of an episode that happened involving him and a student-athlete at the closing of last season. Holmes and the student-athlete were not able to attend the Black Hawks’ semifinal game in Winslow.
“I would not nominate him,” said Superintendent Steve Fitzpatrick on a phone conversation Tuesday. “Because of the program review I can not — from a legal perspective — engage in nominating him at this particular point in time.”
More than 40 hockey players and their parents, along with program supporters and community members came out to the meeting hoping to see this issue resolved. Instead, they left frustrated by the drawn out events of the night.
Coach Trickey asked that he have an opportunity to address school board members on the superintendent’s decision and to answer any questions regarding his program.
“He was talking about confidential matters, and for the protection of those involved that is to be done in executive session,” explained Fitzpatrick.
The majority of an unusually large crowd showed up to support Holmes, anticipating a presentation by coach Trickey. After waiting for two hours in a hallway full of his friends and family, Trickey was then asked to join the board in the executive committee.
After just over an hour, Trickey reappeared, looking very disappointed about the outcome of his meeting with the school board and Fitzpatrick.
“What is the point of electing officials if they don’t represent the people that elected them?” questioned alumni hockey player Alex Mooers.
But it is the student-athletes who feel the brunt of the situation.
“The view has been lost, and its now focused on not stepping on any toes, instead of … justice being served. The team is kind of split about the issue, so it may hurt [us] overall. I think the team right now is not much of a team. [The issue] has been building. It could have been decided before, and I think it is going to affect the team because it hasn’t been resolved.” explained senior wingman Lowell Matthews.
With a fractured unity, the varsity hockey players know it will be a challenge to rebuild the cohesiveness of the team in the upcoming season.
“Its such a distraction, such a waste of emotion, and it sends a signal to the team that we’re not a family, and we’re not resolving this,” explained parent Andy Mooers.
Holmes was extremely pleased with the support of the program shown at the meeting.
“I am very, very pleased with the turnout of people that have come in here tonight. You look at the people who are not even involved in the program that are here supporting [it]. That’s what I am looking at support of.” explained Holmes.
Chairman Brian McGuire explained that Holmes has the right to appeal to the school board, and the board is open to hearing his side, as they have with the others involved in the incident.
“There has been no decision made, except that a varsity coach was hired,” said McGuire. “We are 100 percent behind Joel Trickey. No junior varsity coach has been approved.”
The members of the public who waited for four hours in the hallway of the school, in the cafeteria or outside the building were extremely frustrated, learning that they were not going to be allowed to address the board at the closing of the meeting. McGuire explained that if they would like to address the board in executive session, that they should contact him prior to the August 4 meeting.
The rest of the monthly meeting agenda was completely covered in under 20 minutes. Within that time frame the board voted unanimously to accept the resignation of Susan Duff and Cynthia Wade, approved the request for proposal of a district van, and accepted Mary Jane Cleary as the coach of the varsity cheerleading team for the upcoming season.