Shanley baseball coach of 14 years says contract not renewed due to parent complaint about text message

As a parent of a young baseball player, I am appalled.

I think the message that the Coach sent out is awesome and struck a nerve.

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, which he considers to be standard practice.

“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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KurtR Said:
were you the parent or what

Me?   No.  Different sports. 

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zoops Said:
 

jester7_7 Said:
I played hs sports 1998-2002, football, basketball, track, baseball. Loved the lessons I learned, cherished the friendships and lifelong connections. I also showed up for the 'voluntary' Sunday practices. You know what, they didn't make me better. Off season workouts did, oh wait what off season. But even the kid in only 1 sport doesn't deserve to get the rest of his life consumed. 99.9% of HS athletes won't go on to play collegiate and don't deserve to have their weekends taken away. I would have rather been ice fishing with my dad because now I'm an adult and I don't have those memories and we live far apart. Let kids be kids and enjoy their families in the offseason. Yes, be 100% dedicated during the season but don't pretend it's something that it's not. The stud athletes will find their way to the top and put in the work to succeed at the college level if they want it. I was no scrub but looking back I didn't gain as much from giving up Sundays to run crushers as I would have gained in the outdoors with my Dad. And on this site I would hope people would agree with that.

I coach and I totally agree with you.  HS sports are in many cases far too consuming, there's no reason that a kid has to donate their life to a sport (and I don't think that the shanley coach was asking them to).  Problem is the same parents and players who complain about you having too much going on in the offseason would be the same ones who call for your job when you don't win as much as they think you should. 

This is high school sports. What percentage of kids go on to play college sports? What percentage end up making their living playing sports?

Played sports when I was not working on the farm growing up, have kids that play football, basketball and baseball thru out the school year and legion ball in the summer. Love watching my kids play sports. Like ice fishing with my kids even more. Enjoy coyote hunting with my kids even more. Love bow hunting with my kids even more. Love shooting gophers with my kids even more. My kids seem to enjoy these activities  probably equally as they love playing the sports they are in with their friends and under the coaches they have had.

My kids know that if you make a commitment to do something you put your best effort into it and work hard. The only thing I expect from a coach as a parent is to tell me if my kid is not working hard when they are at practice and understand the importance of family. They show up for voluntary lifting, practices ect... most all the time.

Coaches that understand coaching in my experience do not have to "threaten" kids to show up, the kids WANT to show up. These coaches in my experiences also understand the importance of kids spending time with their families doing other things they may love. Most times these coaches are not trying to relive their days on the court thru kids but are teaching and passing on a love of the game they played.

It would seem to be common sense that if you are "forcing" a kid to choose to the point of giving up other things he loves doing to play the one sport you coach, perhaps you are not getting everything out of that kid you could because somewhere that kid is going to have a bit of resentment when he hears other friends talking about all the perch they pulled out of the ice that Sunday he was at practice or the fun he missed dirt biking on a sat. ect.

This year in basketball our schools boys team has had a looooooong year if you measure it only in wins. We have a young team that should be playing JV ball that is playing varsity because of numbers. We don't have exceptionally atheletic individuals with great talent even though they show up at weight lifting, extra practices ect..... It's one of those years. But what we DO have enough to get compliments from people from the other towns we play and to be awfully proud of is kids that NEVER quit playing or whine or bitch regardless of what the score may be. I have watched some pretty successful teams over the years that could not say that on a night their team won. Their commitment to play the game hard till the end and not quit has not gone unnoticed. Part of that comes from parenting, part of it comes from coaching. Kids need a little time with both in my opinion. 

Somehow down the road 20 years, I have the feeling kids like these playing through a pretty tough season and never quitting , will be pretty successful in life as they become adults.

I don't think they learned that at "voluntary" mandatory Sunday practice.

They may even have a few memories of fishing and hunting with their Dad as kids to enjoy as well.

After having one kid grow up and move on to college I have come to understand and treasure even more the value of the times I got to spend with him when he was a kid.

Glad I didn't have to fight a coach for those times.

I'd hate to be a coach in these times.

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I also arrived at this conclusion. 

KurtR Said:
Quincy were you the parent or what


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first off id like to thank quincy at giving me a good laugh at how completely na

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golfer Said:

KurtR Said:
were you the parent or what

Me?   No.  Different sports. 

edited not you

 Adn

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KurtR Said:
Quincy were you the parent or what

No.

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Quincy05 Said:

yelowjackt Said:

Quincy05 Said:

doublebarrelsaloon Said:
 

Quincy05 Said:

 

Kids should be entitled to play high school sports. When parents are paying for extracurricular activities through tax money (the $50 sports fee doesn't cover everything), then kids should be allowed to play. Expecting to play Varsity, is a different story, and I would agree with you. But, no, kids that loaf through sports don't necessarily loaf through life. That's a terrible generalization towards kids that aren't like you in terms of what excites them. Would it be fair to you as an athlete for someone to say "if a kid loafs through math class they will loaf through life" ? I don't think so.

And I don't think the coach can call a meeting like that in the off-season; rules and all.

Kids should be entitled the opportunity to compete, where they end up all depends on work and ability.

That's what I said.

Ha..Ha no it is not what you said...there's that comprehension thing again…it's ok

Play ≠ compete … sorry I should probably explain the sign ≠ means “does not equal” just so there is no confusion.

Totally...

"Expecting to play Varsity, is a different story, and I would agree with you."
Good effing lord... it's right there in the post. I mean I could type slower if that would help. Maybe go word for word as to how they are equivalent?

How's this:

Doublebarrel: "Kids should be entitled the opportunity to compete"
Quincy: "Kids should be entitled to play high school sports. When parents are paying for extracurricular activities through tax money (the $50 sports fee doesn't cover everything), then kids should be allowed to play."

Doublebarrel: "where they end up all depends on work and ability."
Quincy: "Expecting to play Varsity, is a different story, and I would agree with you."

So we have two people saying that kids should be entitled to play, and yet the level of ability they play against shouldn't be entitled.

Yeah, that's what I said. But if you're really being pedantic about competing and playing (can't see how they aren't the same effing thing in the context of the conversation) then you can win. Want a cookie?

depends...what kind? FYI, I typed this really s...l...o...w....


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KurtR Said:
Quincy were you the parent or what



 

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FenceFixer69 Said:
first off id like to thank quincy at giving me a good laugh at how completely na

You're welcome, what's 'na' ?

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yelowjackt Said:

depends...what kind? FYI, I typed this really s...l...o...w....

You pick, you're the English major.

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5575 Said:
 

KurtR Said:
Quincy were you the parent or what


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Put me in coach!!! Pleeeeaaaassseeeeeeeeeee!!!

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Meelosh Said:
This one blew up rather quickly.

And it's not even plainsman and I!!! Just for the emoticon haters!

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passiton Said:
Perhaps this coach's only problem was that he simply cared too much when the new norm is not to care at all.  There is no way I could coach kids these days because of this mentality.  Winning should mean something.  Performing well should mean something.  Working to get to the top should mean something.  And working to try and stay there should mean something.

This coach was trying to light a fire under his kids so they would do the extra things necessary to be more in control of their destinies.  I thought that is what coaches were suppose to do along with teaching you the game.

It saddens and frustrates me that I have observed how society has clipped the wings of coaches like this one.  Now, most of the coaches have been forced to not give a damn, because giving a damn can hurt someone's feelings.

Many kids don't understand that extra work will pay dividends both individually and collectively.  So I believe it is the responsibility of the parents to make sure their kids are attending every practice, game, or voluntary workout.  If a child doesn't want to put in a little extra time to make themselves better and make thier team better, and the parents don't believe they need to, then they need to either not play sports, or at the very least, not play a team sport where their poor preparation and performance will negatively affect other kids who do care and try hard.

There is a big difference between having a teammate who sucks but tries hard, and one who sucks and doesn't try at all.  And if a kid doesn't have the competitive spirit to care whether they win or lose, they shouldn't be playing the game, because until they quit keeping score, that is what it is all about.  That "W" is the paycheck you receive for being better than the other guy or team.

Why does lighting a fire under his players necessitate veiled threats and outright insults? What happened to inspiration without using fear of repercussion as a channel?

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KurtR Said:
just think 8 pages and the regulars that are generally in the 13 pagers have not even shown up yet.................

oops posted a page to early.  one more for the haters

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Looks like an interesting ball game, everyone should be happy that junior is on the team ..

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 I hope this thread is not representative of what's going on in fargo right now... if it is, the kid who reported this to his parents in the first place could be in big trouble very soon... this is not the kind of situation a teen aged guy will know how to handle or deal with... I would hope that anyone with information of who this is does not share it... someones world is about to cave in if it hasn't already... seriously, people who know who it is should do what they can to help him through the tough days ahead... hurting himself would be a terrible end to this story as I'm sure this is not what he intended by sharing the message with his parents...

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gst Said:

KurtR Said:
just think 8 pages and the regulars that are generally in the 13 pagers have not even shown up yet.................

oops posted a page to early.  one more for the haters

 Adn

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the one thing that i think is being missed here is he has been the coach for 15yrs at the school. so i would assume all of the expectations of the kids should have been known by everyone(coach,parents, kids). making the need for the text unnecessary. i had a very intense coach in high school, that would have never given a threat/warning as he outlined the expectations and if you didn't meet them you would know what would happen. you wouldn't touch the floor.

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Another thread for the ages. LOL


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Foamit Said:
 I hope this thread is not representative of what's going on in fargo right now... if it is, the kid who reported this to his parents in the first place could be in big trouble very soon... this is not the kind of situation a teen aged guy will know how to handle or deal with... I would hope that anyone with information of who this is does not share it... someones world is about to cave in if it hasn't already... seriously, people who know who it is should do what they can to help him through the tough days ahead... hurting himself would be a terrible end to this story as I'm sure this is not what he intended by sharing the message with his parents...

X2 on the not name sharing.

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Neat

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I don't drink alcohol, I drink distilled spirits; so I am not an alcoholic... I am spiritual
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Government take care of him; better take a closer look at the American Indian!" .

 

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Chargers Said:
the one thing that i think is being missed here is he has been the coach for 15yrs at the school. so i would assume all of the expectations of the kids should have been known by everyone(coach,parents, kids). making the need for the text unnecessary. i had a very intense coach in high school, that would have never given a threat/warning as he outlined the expectations and if you didn't meet them you would know what would happen. you wouldn't touch the floor.

…and the fact that the team won the State A title last year with a regular season record below .500

As previously stated I would be shocked if the parent is not fairly prominent in the community or extremely generous with their school donations.

A local talk show read the school’s handbook on sports policies and it sounds like the administration did not handle the situation per the outlined policy.


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I don't drink alcohol, I drink distilled spirits; so I am not an alcoholic... I am spiritual
Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the 
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yelowjackt Said:

I am however becoming more convinced that the entire situation is plausible from the comments that you and Allen spew forth. It only solidifies the wussification theory and the unfortunate direction our society is headed.

Why has this topic gotten to the point that you and others supporting the coach have taken to name calling, reverting to questioning of one's personal sack, sexual orientation, and offering to meet offline?

Is it because I won't let you or others intimidate, bully, or belittle my kids? 

I make no apologies and will not back down on the above, none whatsoever.  In GF we had names for parents with attitudes like this coach and displayed on here by them who defend him.  In GF the common term is Puckhead.  It's generally used to describe people who take children's sports to such an extreme because they wished to relive their past accomplishments and/or take another failed run at greatness through their kids.

I have no regrets about my own past activities, left it all on the table and was well rewarded with plenty of hard earned accomplishments.  Also perfectly ok with my sack, heterosexual orientation, and with letting coaches know there are limits.

“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.” ~ Mark Twain

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MathewsZman Said:

sdwxman Said:
 

Another thread for the ages. LOL

Tommyboy's got a bigger one than you do . Just sayen

I know. I quickly changed it to the actual video... 

This place is special. JUST SAYING! 

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I don't drink alcohol, I drink distilled spirits; so I am not an alcoholic... I am spiritual
Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the 
Government take care of him; better take a closer look at the American Indian!" .

 

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