NAUGATUCK – A level of unrest has formed around the Tug Valley girls’ basketball program. A group of concerned parents have spoken out about the possible unsatisfactory handling of the team by the coach Maxine Colegrove.
A representative from the group of concerned parents contacted this publication two weeks ago to bring attention to the matter. After investigation, it was discovered that the coach in question had not broken any rules and that nothing could be done to alleviate the concerns of the parents who called for the resignation of Coach Colegrove.
Dr. Johnny Branch, the principal at Tug Valley High School said, “One parent has come to me and I met with another parent prior to preparing for the season. Any concerns that have been brought to the school, we are working on them. We want to find a solution.”
Colegrove serves as both the volleyball and girl’s basketball coach for TVHS.
A meeting between Dr. Branch, the Athletic Director Tony Clusky, and 11 concerned parents did take place on Nov, 13. at Tug Valley High School to address the situation. The parents stated, “we have nothing against her personally, we are here to bring her coaching practices into question.” Dr. Branch responded by saying, “anytime a concern is brought forward regarding a coach or a teacher there is a process that has to be followed and an investigation into what the problem entails.”
Dr. Branch ensured the parents that steps were being taken to improve the program’s growth. The fact remains that the Tug Valley girls’ basketball team has been to the state tournament two years in a row. There has not been an updated roster submitted to the WVSSAC website and reports have surfaced that only five players reported to preseason practices.
The WVSSAC Rules and Regulation handbook, Section: 127-3-20, subsection 20.6 states “Individual Students of a team must have practiced 14 separate days, exclusive of the day of a contest, before participating in an interscholastic contest.” Section 127-3-20, subsection 20.2 states, “Organized Team Practice: organized team practice for girls will begin on Monday of week 19 and Monday of week 20 for boys. The first contest for girls will be played on Tuesday of week 22 and Tuesday of week 23 for boys.”
The first scheduled game for the Tug Valley Lady Panthers is on Dec. 2, 2015 against Charleston Catholic. The Official School Calendar for the 2015-2016 Mingo County school year shows the girls’ team was eligible to begin practice on Nov. 16. leaving 13 days available before the first scheduled game on Dec. 02, 2015. This means that it would be difficult for a player to make up those practices if they do not participate from the start of the practices.
A petition was circulated by some students at Tug Valley High School calling for Colegrove to resign from both of her coaching positions.
The petition in question gained more than 100 signatures from some of the student body and school’s athletes. The document was brought to attention during the meeting between Dr.Branch, Clusky and the concerned parents. Branch informed the parents the petition was not valid because it was against policy, school or state was not identified, to circulate a petition throughout the student body without the proper permission from school officials.
When Branch was asked if he supported the coaching style of Colegrove, he said, “I support all of my coaches.”
Mrs. Colegrove responded in an email saying, “I honestly cannot comment on the petitions themselves because I am yet to know what the petitions state concerning me. I will say that any concerns that have been brought to Dr. Branch’s attention has been discussed and addressed between Dr. Branch, Mr. Clusky and myself.”
Mrs. Colegrove continued saying, “”As a coach, I have always put the team and the program as a priority and as anyone in sports knows you cannot please everyone.”
The group of concerned parents took it upon themselves to bring the issue forward during the Mingo County Board of Education (BOE) meeting, which was held at Gilbert Middle School last Tuesday. A representative from the group was allowed five minutes to explain their position to the board.
John Paul Vance spoke for the group. “I want to know what the legal procedure is for students to file a petition against a member of the coaching staff?”
The board responded, “If it’s not on the agenda we cannot discuss that right now.” Vance was advised to contact the superintendent regarding the issue. The BOE denied any knowledge of the petition. However, a member of the board had discussed the petition with a member of the Williamson Daily News’s staff prior to the meeting, but the subject had not been formally brought to the attention of the Mingo County BOE.
Vance explained the petition to the board at that time. Vance said, “ Our children, started a petition because they were having problems with their coach. There is no problem between me and Mrs. Colegrove, she is my cousin and her husband is sitting right there on the board. My problem is with no one listening to our children, and when 300 children sign a petition I believe they should be heard.”
This publication would like to recognize the fact that there have been two petition circulated, one within the student body and one throughout the community of Tug Valley, and that Mr. Vance’s comments about 300 signatures was grouping both petitions together. It should also be noted that there are now unofficial reports that the Tug Valley Lady Panthers basketball team has eight students participating.
The first scheduled basketball game for the Tug Valley Lady Panthers will be played tonight, on the road, against Charleston Catholic at 7:00 p.m.
(Editor’s Note: This story is continuing to develop and any further developments will be reported at a later date.)