BLACKFOOT – The Blackfoot School Board has determined that the high school softball team needs to be heading in a new direction.

That was the conclusion of several discussions that required the board to meet in executive session on several occasions and resulted in the termination of the coaching contract of the head coach and all of his assistant coaches for the 2019-2020 school year. The coaches were all made aware of the decision via mail that was sent out prior to the start of the new school fiscal year on July 1.

“There were a number of complaints and concerns that were submitted to this office that came from people that were close to the program,” district business manager Ryan Wilson said. “We also received a number of concerns and complaints from fans of the program, and the school board was very concerned about the direction the program was heading. This had nothing to do with the recent success of the program, but had been an ongoing situation.”

The 2019 BHS softball team had a very successful season in the spring of 2019, including a regular season championship, four players being named to the all-conference team or all-regional team and included the player of the year for the High Country Conference in Chloe Cronquist. The team also played well in the district tournament, earning an opportunity to play for a spot in the state tournament.

“The issues that were discussed were not about wins and losses,” Wilson said. “These were issues about the proper behavior and the culture that was being cultivated within the program, specifics of which could not be made public and pertained to the direction that the program was heading.”

As is the usual result of situations such as this, the responsibility of the direction of the program and the values placed upon the program are in direct correlation to the input of the coaches, primarily the head coach of the program. That is the main concern of the school board in matters such as this, officials said.

“Our concern centered around an ongoing problem within the program and that is the responsibility of the head coach,” Wilson said. “The determination was that the problem had not gone away and didn’t appear to be going away any time soon. That is why the school board made the decision they made and that was to make a change at the top. It is usual that when a change occurs at the top, no matter if it is retirement, switching positions or just transferring to another school, we also relieve the assistant coaches of their duties so the incoming head coach can have the opportunity to build their own coaching staff.”

All of the coaches involved have not been removed from any other coaching responsibilities that they may have with other programs. It also leaves the assistant coaches with the opportunity to apply for positions with the new head coach or to apply for the head coaching position if that is their desire.

The notification of the change ended up being done via mail due to the fact that the first several attempts at phone calls to set up meetings were met with a lot of answering machines and no answers, the Postal Service was used to get the information out, officials said.

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