Dowagiac board plays mean trick

Published 2:53 am Friday, October 29, 2010

It’s still three days until Halloween, but the Dowagiac Board of Education played a trick on the Chieftain wrestling team.

novakA special meeting was called Wednesday night to vote on the recommendation of Matt Alward, a successful junior varsity football coach who has also been a JV and junior high wrestling coach at Dowagiac, to be the next varsity wrestling coach.

And like the previous time or times, I frankly have lost track, the board failed to reach a decision.

Shame on you Dowagiac BOE! There is just over a week until the beginning of wrestling practice and our team is without a coach.

Because it’s a “personnel” matter, I doubt if anyone is going to tell us exactly what the problem is. The board once again was split down the middle with three votes for approval and three votes on the no side.

Yes, there are seven school board members, but Michelle Helmuth abstained from voting because her brother David, who was the assistant coach to John Green was an applicant for the position.

I don’t know what this board wants and I am beginning to think it doesn’t know what it wants either.

Is someone hoping that because of the deadlock Green, who former athletic director Greg Younger and former superintendent Peg Stowers decided earlier this year should not return to the program is going to get his job back?

When you sit in a position like mine, you hear all sorts of things. I have heard plenty on both sides, of which I believe less than half.

But my problem with the situation is simple. The only ones getting hurt by this indecision are the wrestlers. They are now well behind in preseason conditioning. They will not be able to make that up.

The Chieftains wrestle in one of the top conferences in the entire state of Michigan and nobody is going to cut them any slack just because they haven’t got a coach.

I understand there is some division among the wrestlers themselves about who they want to coach, but if the board is going to go by the vow of some of these young men not to wrestle because Alward is selected, it sends us down a slippery slope from which there may be no return.

What coach in the Dowagiac system would be safe if the kids decide who gets to be in charge? In all the years I have been doing this job, there have been many coaches that were well liked and greatly disliked by some athletes, parents and fans.

If the board decided their employment with the district based on those complaints it would be news to me.

And who would honestly want to coach in a district that lets the players and fans decide who is best suited for the job?

I also have to wonder what new athletic director Scott Lawler and new superintendent Mark Daniel are thinking about the entire situation.

This is one of their first major appointments and the board has cut the legs out from under them.

I found the comment by board member Mark Dobberstein interesting. Dobberstein, who voted no along with Randy Cuthbert and Julia Smith, said “is this a choice or a lack of options?”

The board had a choice back in the summer when this whole process began. It’s a little late now to be complaining about the options or the choices they have.

The clock is ticking and it’s time for the Dowagiac Board of Education to get together and make a decision. Only time will tell if that decision will be right or wrong, but at least it would be a decision.

Trust the people who were on the search committee. That’s why they were selected. Don’t waste another minute of these kids’ preparation time because when Dec. 1 rolls around, area powerhouse Buchanan will be waiting for the Chieftains to step on the mat.

Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at