Varsity girls vent their anger over coach’s dismissal

The citizen trifecta of displeasure at Monday’s school board meeting continued as members of the Falcon varsity girls basketball team vented their anger that John Pyrtek was out of his job as head basketball coach.

On March 23, during a routine visit to South Whidbey’s athletic director John Patton, Pyrtek was informed his one-year coaching contract wasn’t being renewed. He was not told the reason why apart from the administration’s view that he wasn’t a good fit for the program.

Seven team members presented a petition signed by 12 varsity and JV players asking the board to re-consider the decision not to renew Pyrtek’s contract.

Senior Jessie Eaton, observing the girls had their first winning season in six years, told the board of her concerns over misuse of power by the school’s administration.

“Men who commit injustices remain in power while the good men of the world are continually degraded and wronged,” Eaton said.

After noting the positive impact various coaches have had on her education and character, Eaton added she was upset because “my pride is wounded along with my ideas of a fair world. It breaks my heart that real world lessons came at the expense of great men and an immense loss of respect for those responsible.”

Amanda LaVassar had a question for the board.

“How can someone who gives 100 percent, respects his players, motivates us to work as a team and trust each other be considered a ‘poor fit’?” LaVassar asked.

LaVassar said her teammates didn’t understand why administrators didn’t talk to Pyrtek if they weren’t happy with his performance.

“Is it because yoga was part of our training? Is it because some girls got less play time? Is it because we became winners? Firing John Pyrtek makes no sense!” LaVassar said.

Noting her daughter switched from cheerleading to basketball specifically because of Pyrtek, KK Iversen read a letter from Janelle. “This past year ... has been a great joy and blessing. I have had probably the most memorable season of my high school career and our impressive success was simply the icing on the cake.”

Natasha Roberts believes Pyrtek taught her good sportsmanship and how to learn from mistakes, on the court and in life.

“I was a freshman and didn’t complain that I didn’t get to play much. The coach is a great guy,” she stated.

The girls collectively asked the board for an explanation for themselves and their former coach. “Perhaps you will find he was fired for an unjust cause,” LaVassar concluded.

Pam Newman has two daughters on the team and considers Pyrtek a “class act.” She warned board members of the possible consequences if they don’t reverse the decision to let Pyrtek go.

“Maybe these young voters and others here tonight will remember what happened at the next bond levy request, or when it’s time to vote for a new board,” she said.

School board president Rich Parker was impressed by the girls’ presentation.

“They were very sincere and passionate in their comments,” he said.

He confirmed that district personnel matters are dealt with by management and are not discussed in public. He said the board has no role other than to listen.

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