Basalt fires coach after her arrest for drunken driving
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Debbie Alcorta, 30, was arrested at a state patrol checkpoint in El Jebel. Last week, BHS Principal Jim Waddick told Alcorta he would not offer her a contract for the upcoming season.
“All I can say is it was an accumulation of concerns,” Waddick said.
Alcorta said she would not speak about the issue until she contacted her lawyer.
Alcorta was involved with the Lady Longhorns program for seven years, five as an assistant and two as the head coach. She led the team to the class 3A state tournament in both years as head coach, finishing fourth in the state last season and fifth the previous year. Basalt is now looking for a new coach.
“We have started an ad in the local papers,” Waddick said.
He said state law prohibits him from discussing the reasons for Alcorta’s firing.
“If I tell you that is even a factor it violates the laws,” Waddick said about Alcorta’s drunken-driving arrest.
He did say DUIs do not always warrant the dismissal of a staff member.
“It’s not an automatic policy,” Waddick said. “A lot of these decisions are made on personnel issues that are based on information the public will never know.”
Alcorta had a strict drinking policy with her players. The district’s policy warrants a suspension for players who are caught drinking, but Alcorta took it a little further. The district allows coaches to devise stiffer policies.
“If you got caught drinking, then you’re off the team,” said Autumn Caughern, who will be a senior this year. “That was her policy.”
She said she feels it was a fair policy and doesn’t think Alcorta’s arrest diminished her role as a coach, leader and role model.
“I don’t think it really mattered because she’s over 21, it’s legal for her [to drink],” Caughern said. “I don’t really hold anything against her for drinking.”
“She was like a second mom to all of us, always there for us,” said Lauren Redfern, who will also be a senior. “She was a great coach and a wonderful lady.”
Both Caughern and Redfern said they feel Alcorta’s firing was unfair, and that it leaves the team in limbo.
“We don’t know what to expect, we were comfortable with her,” Caughern said. “We don’t have any idea who could take over the position, we’re all just kind of waiting and hoping we get someone good, someone like Debbie.”
But Waddick said his mind is made up.
“This is a tough decision, [but] I do feel it was the best decision. I don’t really waver from that,” he said. “There are times in our job when we have to do the harder right [rather] than the easier wrong.
“People may never agree on these decisions, but at some point you have to decide to move on and do what’s best for the kids. I would just hope it doesn’t destroy the team.
“My hope is people understand who I am and what I’ve done [for BHS].”
Steve Benson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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