Friday, April 25, 2003


Dear Hockey Saga Diary,

I woke up to discover that four emails from Mr. Randolph's hockey players were waiting for me. These young men are articulate, passionate and paint a very impressive picture of their coach. They are in shock at the news of Mr. Randolph's unwanted retirement and they want answers. I don't blame them. I do too. 

Steve's is a typical example. It is courteous and thoughtful. I think Steve graduated with my daughter.  There will be a tremendous sympathy for Mike and I expect more people will demand an  explanation before this is all over.

There was a voice mail from the School District's messaging machine for school board members. Julio confirmed what he had told me Thursday evening. Mike will not be coaching next year. The Duluth News Tribune had a long story about Mike's being out. Mike is baffled too and wants an explanation for his ouster. That may be a problem.

After taking some phone calls I talked to Julio again. He explained that we can't have a closed meeting because of the nature of our extra-curricular contract. Its a no fault arrangement. If coaches want to quit they can, no-questions-asked. Management has the same right. In fact, to outline reasons for not renewing a contract could be grounds for a suit against us for defamation. Reasons could be construed as giving "cause" which is what the contract specifically prevents. 

To my chagrin Julio told me that the closed meeting I'd been expecting shouldn't take place at all because Mike could subpoena our record of it. Anything amounting to a reason for the decision would be the equivalent of cause. Julio thinks we should let sleeping dogs lie and keep mum. Cripes! The dog is already snarling.

Some critics of the decision are now pointing the finger at the East Principal, Laurie Knapp. According to the email Mr. L sent me she's been making it difficult for him to run his program for a long time. 

I know there are people who don't like East Hockey but I'd be surprised if Laurie would make such a decision without due deliberation. Laurie is soft spoken but I've admired her for making tough decisions. She handled the kids smoking around East very well a couple of years ago. While they now mostly smoke farther away that is still a great improvement for the neighbors who were starting to feud with the kids. I didn't think she'd have any success. 

The hockey team held a sit-in in Knapp's office yesterday. Fortunately one of the attendance people who has a son on the hockey team asked them to leave. They were willing to leave for their team mate's mother. I found out through Claudia, who works with her husband, that angry pro-Randolph parents had been calling all day and she had been taking their calls. She asked one particularly abusive parent , "Do you know who you are talking to?"  Of course they knew her because their sons were both on the team together. I hope they were properly shamed. Her husband told Claudia that their is a "civil war" going on between the East hockey parents.  That sounds just lovely.

I tried to watch our regular PBS news shows with Claudia tonight but I mostly took telephone calls from unhappy people. I've agreed with all of them that I'm interested in seeing justice done. My callers have been quick to assume that the decision was made based on the unhappy parents of kids who Randolph cut from the team. I asked Julio if this was true and he assured me that it wasn't. I believe him. I wonder who else will?

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