Black Hawks deserve better support from SAD 29

16 years ago

To the editor:
Recently I sat for several hours with a large group of people gathered to express their concern to the SAD 29 School Board about the direction and leadership of the varsity hockey program. Since procedural rules did not allow us to speak at that meeting, I think all of those present would like to be confident that decisions being made about the program include input from families who have had the most positive of experiences with coaches Trickey and Holmes. To that end, I have been asked to share a portion of a letter I recently sent to members of the SAD 29 School Board.
    Unlike any other parents associated with the Houlton-Hodgdon Black Hawks team, I have experience with two different varsity hockey programs under four different sets of coaches. I know first-hand what happens when coaches do not know how to instill discipline and respect in their players and so have always had the utmost respect for Joel Trickey and Mitch Holmes for their ability to do this. I watched them transform a team that had one of the worst reputations in Class B into a team that was honored multiple times with sportsmanship awards, not only from the Maine Principals Association, but from the referees themselves.
On a personal note, when, during my son’s senior year he didn’t get to play in very many games, I was angry and upset. It was my son who was able to explain to me that this was the decision the coaches had made because they felt it would be best for the team. He had another important role of cheering everyone on, helping them to keep focused and watching and sharing everything he observed from the bench. Understanding the importance of being a good team member both on and off the ice was something Joel and Mitch taught, nurtured an supported, and I have to say that, because of this, my son could embrace the situation with more maturity than most adults in this program show. These coaches have a lot to teach both players, especially new players, and adults about what matters in sports programs.
Over the 16 years my children were in high school, they played many different sports and had many different coaches – some good, some mediocre and some outright mean and degrading. Coaches Trickey and Holmes were better than good, they are outstanding coaches and I am grateful that my son was able to play for them for four years.
Two other comments I would like to share. First, when it comes to helping young people, Mitch Holmes I second to none. For years he has been paying hockey registration fees for families who can’t afford them, buying equipment, fixing equipment, driving kids to games, writing college recommendations and the list goes on and on. In this situation, I can only think it is really true that no good deed goes unpunished. Secondly, I worry about the precedent set when an incident involving a youth who is still learning those lessons about respect and teamwork can set in motion; events which cause a competent and caring coach to lose his job and have his reputation so publicly damaged.
I have had a great deal of pride in this hockey program over these past years as has, I believe, the whole community. The team has a reputation throughout the same as an athletically accomplished team that exhibits good sportsmanship and great attitude. That did not happen by accident. It happened because of the hard work, knowledge of the game and ability to meld kids into a true team that Joel Trickey and Mitch Holmes have brought to the program. They deserve far better support than they have received from SAD 29 to this point.

Christy Fitzpatrick