Aspen High ejects baseball coach
July 28, 2005
Aspen High School’s baseball coach was fired earlier this month, accompanied by accusations from present and past players that the dismissal was “stupid politics that we could do without.”Rick Ryan said he was fired by Athletic Director Carol Sams. He indicated that he has asked school district Superintendent Diana Sirko to intervene on his behalf.”Yes … I’m no longer coaching the baseball team at Aspen,” Ryan confirmed on Wednesday via e-mail. “It’s hard for me to really comment on the situation at this point. The superintendent was going to look into my complaints, and she has yet to get back to me due to being out of town.”He said he had been coaching at Aspen for the past nine years, after graduating from Aspen High in 1984.Sirko, who returned to her office Thursday, declined to comment on Ryan’s firing, citing state confidentiality regulations regarding personnel matters.
“It was just decided that he would not return next year,” she said.Ryan, as do many coaches, works on a year-to-year, contractual basis, Sirko said.”We appreciate the years of time that Rick has given to the system,” she said.But she and Sams, she continued, “thought it might be time to head in a different direction with our program.”Noting that Sams will be in charge of searching for Ryan’s replacement, she added that “there’s lots of differing philosophies … you just search for someone who is a fit with the direction you want your program to go.”Ryan, however, said Sams fired him because she felt “I couldn’t relate to the kids of today, and I was too hard on the kids because I came from an era when coaches were a lot tougher. Obviously … I beg to differ with Carol’s assessment, and her current philosophy, but that’s her call.”
Beyond that, he declined to comment on the situation. Sams has been out of town on vacation and could not be reached for comment.One Aspen High baseball player, however, said he was “really appalled and angry” over the decision. Kevin Coulombe, who will be a senior this fall, said the move was “the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”Coulombe said Ryan “had a special bond with the team. … We were his second family. He cared so much about us.”He maintained that “there’s, like, three players who are happy about this.” He claimed those players had been angered because “they thought they were better players than anyone else” and Ryan had been keeping them on the bench.According to Coulombe, these players complained to their parents, the parents complained to Sams, and now Ryan is out.”Parents felt their kids were better than they really were,” he said hotly. “[The firing is] just a bunch of stupid politics that we could do without.”
Luke Farrell, who played for the Skiers in the 1998-99 seasons, also worked as an assistant coach under Ryan last season. He called Ryan’s dismissal “utterly tragic” in an e-mail to The Aspen Times.Farrell, who is living in Maine, praised Ryan’s “skill as a coach, and the undying love he holds for the Aspen community and the development of the local youth.”He also accused the school district of “beginning to lose sight of what was once good and wholesome” about the baseball program, and criticized district administrators for not cautioning Ryan during the last baseball season.”Never once this season did any resentment toward the coaches or program … come to light,” he wrote. “No warnings were given, no probation incurred, no voices of protest out of the ordinary.”If there were problems, then they were of the kind that naturally evolve in high school sports.”John Colson’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org