Shanley/Baseball Coach non-renewal

Shanley/Baseball Coach non-renewal

Postby Run4Fun2009 » Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:46 pm

Shanley baseball coach's contact not renewed after complaint about text message he sent to players

FARGO – When the Fargo Shanley baseball team hits the field this spring, it will do so with a new coach.

Joel Swanson, who started the Deacons program in 1999, was informed by school administrators Monday that his coaching contract would not be renewed for the 2014 season.

According to Swanson, the reason for the nonrenewal is a complaint from a parent of one of the players in the Shanley program regarding a text message he sent to players last week regarding preparations for the upcoming season.

Swanson told The Forum that he met with Shanley activities director Randy Nelson and Dr. Michael Smith, the Superintendent of Blessed John Paul II Catholic Schools Network of Fargo on Monday to discuss the text message. In the meeting, Swanson said he was told a complaint had been issued by a parent.

“They told me the text message was considered threatening in tone and wording,” Swanson said. “They went on to say that it violated Shanley’s values and that my contract would not be renewed.”

Nelson confirmed Wednesday that Swanson’s contract was not renewed, but declined to comment on what prompted the decision, citing the matter as a personnel issue.

Swanson, who teaches alternative education at Cheney Middle School in West Fargo, coached 14 seasons with the Deacons and was coming off of a 10-12 season in which Shanley won the North Dakota Class A state championship.

Defending that championship is what prompted Swanson to send his players the text message.

Swanson provided The Forum a letter he sent Nelson and Dr. Smith in response to his dismissal, which included what he says is the transcript of the text message he sent to the players.

The text goes into great length about Swanson’s expectations for the 2014 season and his displeasure with players having poor attendance at non-mandatory open gym sessions.

“We are two months into open gyms and obviously all of you are satisfied with last year’s title,” the message reads. “We are the team that will have a target on our backs. We are the team that everyone throws their ace against. We are the team everyone wants to beat this year. I am sick of stupid excuses to not come to open gym. … If you want to be an athlete commit to it. One hour a week is not too much to ask if you want to be an athlete.

“If you make an excuse not to come then you are telling me what kind of athlete you are. I cannot require you to come but I thought I would have a group excited to try and defend a title. Not to make excuses and not care. Some of you are not even in a sport right now, which is even more pathetic. … I will not send out another message like this, but some of you may be in for a rude awakening when the season comes and you are not in the lineup due to a younger player that puts in the time.”

The Class A baseball season opens March 17, with the first contests scheduled for March 28.

Swanson has received hundreds of emails and text messages of support following the decision, which he cites as unjust due to the lack of opportunity to defend himself.

Swanson said he was afforded no challenge to the complaint nor was he allowed to meet – in a mediated setting – with the parent that issued the complaint as is standard practice in such matters.

“It seems like something is missing here,” Swanson said. “If they want me to step down from my position, then fine, but it was done in an unprofessional way. I was released without ever being able to talk to this parent. I wasn’t able to defend myself as far as what the content of the text message was.”

In May of 2013, Minnesota passed a law preventing parent complaints as being the sole reason for a board to not renew a coaching contract in its high schools. No similar legislation exists in North Dakota.

“It is just too bad,” Swanson said. “We have a large senior class this year and they are a good group of kids. We didn’t have the best record in the regular season last year, but they were fun to coach. … It is tough to leave that. As a coach you want to help kids and share your knowledge, but there always is somebody who seems to think that is not good enough or they can do better.”
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Re: Shanley/Baseball Coach non-renewal

Postby Flip » Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:30 am

I feel bad for this coach, but you CAN'T send that text. You just can't. Every team has a parent just waiting in the weeds for something they can complain about.
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Re: Shanley/Baseball Coach non-renewal

Postby Hinsa » Thu Feb 06, 2014 8:57 am

Shanley should be ashamed of themselves. Coaches need support, not cow-towing to one parent who obviously is over-protective of little Johnny. Shanley should also be ashamed that they did not follow protocol and have the proper meetings between the parent and coach to try to settle this thing before it got to the point of asking for a resignation.

I understand what you are saying Flip, I just wish that we wouldn't be at a point in time where a little kick in the butt message gets you fired. Every coach in America knows that he is just trying to challenge his players and get them motivated. He didn't curse at them, he didn't call anyone out specifically, there was no verbal abuse in the text...I just find this whole deal, based on what was reported in the story, to be disgusting.
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Re: Shanley/Baseball Coach non-renewal

Postby footballchicken » Thu Feb 06, 2014 2:36 pm

Crappy deal for the coach….BUT - like flip said, you can't send that in a text where tone of voice is lost.

Fire them up in a classroom meeting, not over an informal text message.

I was reading the Text message and was thinking, wow this is a shame….UNTIL i saw the "you are pathetic line".

I am a coach, I would never think of telling my kids that. Both sides at fault here, so nobody wins. Hope the parents are happy.
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Re: Shanley/Baseball Coach non-renewal

Postby Run4Fun2009 » Thu Feb 06, 2014 4:26 pm

footballchicken wrote:Crappy deal for the coach….BUT - like flip said, you can't send that in a text where tone of voice is lost.

Fire them up in a classroom meeting, not over an informal text message.

I was reading the Text message and was thinking, wow this is a shame….UNTIL i saw the "you are pathetic line".

I am a coach, I would never think of telling my kids that. Both sides at fault here, so nobody wins. Hope the parents are happy.


Where does he state that the kids are pathetic...that was NOT in the text. This was: "Not to make excuses and not care. Some of you are not even in a sport right now, which is even more pathetic". The word pathetic is used to describe their excuses for not coming to a one-hour practice on Thursday morning when not in a winter sport right now.
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Re: Shanley/Baseball Coach non-renewal

Postby go maji » Thu Feb 06, 2014 4:40 pm

I have never been to a private school, but is this just something they don't tolerate or something.

Or would it be less of a deal in a public school.

just wondering
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Re: Shanley/Baseball Coach non-renewal

Postby footballchicken » Thu Feb 06, 2014 4:54 pm

Run - your quote is correct.

Does that quote pump kids up nowadays? Of course not. Kids are kids more so than ever and coaching is much different than when I played. Motivational, I get it- but the text was out of line IMO. And it was a text.

The "back in my day" folks would never cry to mom about this, yes - but they also never had a coach text them.
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Re: Shanley/Baseball Coach non-renewal

Postby Indy5 » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:10 pm

100% behind the coach. I do agree though that calling a meeting would have been better than sending out a text. Aren't there a lot of people complaining about lack of work ethic from today's youth? Well this shows exactly why. One man, passionate about his team's success, tries to motivate some lazy kids and he gets fired for it.
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Re: Shanley/Baseball Coach non-renewal

Postby Flip » Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:48 pm

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Re: Shanley/Baseball Coach non-renewal

Postby Hinsa » Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:56 pm

Why aren't the parents that are supportive of Coach Swanson going to the Shanley administration and raising complaints of their own against the parent that got the coach fired? Why are they letting the voice of one malcontent shout down the voices of the majority that like the coach and want to keep him? C'mon folks, take a stand show us all that the voice of one complainer cannot dictate to the voices of the many!
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Re: Shanley/Baseball Coach non-renewal

Postby scoobyx2 » Sat Feb 08, 2014 11:37 am

footballchicken wrote:Run - your quote is correct.

Does that quote pump kids up nowadays? Of course not. Kids are kids more so than ever and coaching is much different than when I played. Motivational, I get it- but the text was out of line IMO. And it was a text.

The "back in my day" folks would never cry to mom about this, yes - but they also never had a coach text them.

I am always telling my kids (and co-workers)..."If its important, don't send a text!" How many parents are going to step up and defend a coach who scolded players for skipping open gym, when obviously, many of their kids weren't going to open gym?
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Re: Shanley/Baseball Coach non-renewal

Postby momofathletes » Sat Feb 08, 2014 3:45 pm

have to side with the coach on this one. Perhaps the text itself could have been worded slightly different, but it is simply a text encouraging his players to put the work in. To get fired over it? C'mon. Sounds like to me the parent(s) who was offended did not go through the proper channels and made a big stink about nothing. Anybody raising teenagers these days pretty much knows texting is their way of life. You can call a kid numerous times on their phone and they won't answer but send a text and they reply right away. There was nothing threatening to any particular player in the text.
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Re: Shanley/Baseball Coach non-renewal

Postby mustang44 » Thu Jun 18, 2015 11:47 am

I am not sure if anyone else is still reading these - This is Joel Swanson, the former Shanley Coach. I just wanted to clarify a couple things from what I have been reading for responses.

First, I do admit that if I could do it over, I may not have used pathetic as a choice of words, but it was not directed at any player, just the situation that some were in.

Second, many don't realize that I had 2 team meetings prior to sending this. Both addressed attendance. The 2013 season when we won the state title, we averaged 25-30 kids at open gym. They were held at Shanley, and kids would show up, hit, then go get ready for class. No extra travel, no conflict with other activities. We only had 2 seniors on the state title team. We had the same 8 kids showing up every morning in 2014, and 5 were 8th graders. 1 varsity player. The two meetings addressed this, and the varsity players chose the date and time for open gym to avoid any conflicts. Thursday mornings. 6 am. This allowed them to have Wed night to catch up on homework, get to bed early, and come and hit. No one still attended after two meetings and the players themselves deciding on the time. My assistant was able to get his 8 and 6 year old out of bed and drive from North Fargo to Shanley to volunteer time to the players. Five 8th grade parents got their kids out of bed every week and made sure they were there. At this point is when my frustration got the best of me and I sent the text.

It obviously showed as they went 8-22 with basically an entire returning varsity and went 0-2 in the region tourney. This on a team with 8 seniors, 6 who were returning varsity starters from the year before. What should have been a great year for the seniors turned into a disaster with no dedication or care. Only one went on to college ball.

People say there had to be more to the story, but that is it. 15 years with not a single complaint or reprimand, my communication, practice plans and handbooks were used by the AD as examples of what to do every year for all coaches. Maybe I am a bit old school.
Last edited by mustang44 on Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Shanley/Baseball Coach non-renewal

Postby baseballdad » Thu Jun 18, 2015 5:26 pm

I think what happened and how it happened to you is terrible. Glad to here you have a new job so you can stay connected to what you are passionate about. Do you offer any open scouting/evaluation camps with college coaches present to get baseball players noticed/promoted? If so when and where any info would be appreciated.
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Re: Shanley/Baseball Coach non-renewal

Postby scoobyx2 » Sat Jun 20, 2015 8:12 am

Glad to hear that another nearby school recognized the merit of your work, and more importantly, that you decided to continue coaching. Also, congrats to the young 8th grader who earned the chance to start during a championship season thru hardwork. State championships never happen by accident.
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Re: Shanley/Baseball Coach non-renewal

Postby Bagboy » Sun Jun 28, 2015 9:29 pm

Quite a resume!!!
I also heard that you played professionally in the California Angels and Minnesota Twins organizations, were an all-conference baseball, football, and hockey player at the college level and even had one at bat in the show! That's amazing!
Are all these things true or have I heard incorrectly?
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