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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Allen Said:

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.

We differ a bit on our viewpoint Allen, but I completely agree with you on this one.  No need for calling people out or talking about other's sacks just because someone doesn't agree with you.  Surprised this thread hasn't been deleted by now. 

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Allen ,it looks like you've taken to name calling as well.  Puckhead?  Really?  This coach isn't bullying any of these kids.  If you want to defend junior and his inability to get up and go work out, feel free to do so.  But when society tells this kid that he needs to get up and do something, I hope he has the skills to actually get off his ass and tend to his responsibilities now that daddy isn't there to wipe his tears and come up with excuses. 


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more man parts please!!

 

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this is why i believe golfer is right and this is not the only reason for him being fired.

like i said why the need to send the text if he has been there that long? the expectations should have already been in place.  if this is the only reason for him being fired, i don't agree.

yelowjackt Said:

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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bigbrad123 Said:

We differ a bit on our viewpoint Allen, but I completely agree with you on this one.  No need for calling people out or talking about other's sacks just because someone doesn't agree with you. 

Maybe this will help

Neat

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Damn it john it was just getting better. Apt. fri.

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DirtyMike Said:
Allen ,it looks like you've taken to name calling as well.  Puckhead?  Really?  This coach isn't bullying any of these kids.  If you want to defend junior and his inability to get up and go work out, feel free to do so.  But when society tells this kid that he needs to get up and do something, I hope he has the skills to actually get off his ass and tend to his responsibilities now that daddy isn't there to wipe his tears and come up with excuses. 

Yep, despite having generally grown out of it, I can still get drug into the depths of name calling and the like.

Glad to see you view coaching as some weird ass form of societal training.  WTF?  Is that actually in the position description of a high school baseball coach?

“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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johnr Said:

bigbrad123 Said:

We differ a bit on our viewpoint Allen, but I completely agree with you on this one.  No need for calling people out or talking about other's sacks just because someone doesn't agree with you. 

Maybe this will help

JohnR, a little bit too much of a push up bra IMO......but yes, much better than talk of ballsacks. 

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yelowjackt Said:

webs Said:
 Only thing he did wrong was text. 

 

I don’t agree with this...if he was going to say the same thing in a meeting why could it not be texted ???

..and I would bet the meeting would not be as sugar coated as the text its self

Everyone who has played a competitive sport in High School has probably had their asses chewed off and worked until they puked for doing something stupid. He just made the mistake of not realizing some panzy ass kids parent would take offense to it. 

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gst Said:
Damn it john it was just getting better. Apt. fri.

Trying to improve it all.
Best way to get a cock fight going, a bit of hens to impress

Neat

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Quincy05 Said:
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?

I don't see that in his text.  If he was insulting "1 sport athletes", wouldn't the 1 sport they were playing be baseball? So why would he degrade someone for only playing the sport that he coached?

Baseball in North Dakota is a crap shoot during the spring.  I don't think the kids up here were able to get on a field last year to practice before games were scheduled, due to the weather and snow.  I'm sure that is why this, as well as most coaches in ND, would/should place an emphasis on preseason programs and their necessity to be prepared in order to maximize the limited time coaches and teams have to prepare outside before games start.  

Anyway, I suppose it is a matter of how you wish to interpret the coach's message, and it would appear that your interpretation is different from the vast majority of others, and since I believe in democracy, you lose. 

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DirtyMike Said:
quincy, quincy, quincy.  Voluntary doesn't mean you don't have to go to it.  If you have a valid reason for not showing up, so be it.  But some of these kids aren't even participating in a sport.  It is pathetic to think these kids could come to 1 hour of open gym and are choosing to stay at home and do nothing.  I'm glad I don't know you.  I recommend the brass rail in MPLS if you want to start showing your sack to a bunch of dudes.  They'll take care of you.  Now go back to Fargo and wonder why life isn't fair.

Do you know this to be a fact? 

What if their unacceptable excuse was hunting or fishing?

                                                                                                                         

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passiton Said:

Quincy05 Said:
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?

I don't see that in his text.  If he was insulting "1 sport athletes", wouldn't the 1 sport they were playing be baseball? So why would he degrade someone for only playing the sport that he coached?

Baseball in North Dakota is a crap shoot during the spring.  I don't think the kids up here were able to get on a field last year to practice before games were scheduled, due to the weather and snow.  I'm sure that is why this, as well as most coaches in ND, would/should place an emphasis on preseason programs and their necessity to be prepared in order to maximize the limited time coaches and teams have to prepare outside before games start.  

Anyway, I suppose it is a matter of how you wish to interpret message, and it would appear that your interpretation is different from the vast majority of others, and since I believe in democracy, you lose. 

I don't know why he would be dumb enough to degrade the kids he coaches for only playing the sport he coaches. You would have to ask him why a single sport isn't good enough.

But your second paragraph touches on why he would insult single sport players. Because baseball is limited in the winter, so playing another sport allows him to see they are keeping active. He's on a power trip and wants to control the lives of his players. He's the one putting out excuses saying it's for the team, which I call BS on. There is a reason there are regulations against off season coaching, he just highlighted the need for them.

If that's how you want to define democracy, then feel free to win.

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So be it.  Go hunting and fishing if you believe that is more important than taking a few cuts or grounders.  I'm not saying you shouldn't do that.  In fact, I'd rather hear "I'm going to be fishing with my dad and a few friends" than some poor excuse when they're just sitting at home.  On the same token, the kid shouldn't get upset when someone is performing better than him and gets that starting spot. 

WormWiggler Said:

DirtyMike Said:
quincy, quincy, quincy.  Voluntary doesn't mean you don't have to go to it.  If you have a valid reason for not showing up, so be it.  But some of these kids aren't even participating in a sport.  It is pathetic to think these kids could come to 1 hour of open gym and are choosing to stay at home and do nothing.  I'm glad I don't know you.  I recommend the brass rail in MPLS if you want to start showing your sack to a bunch of dudes.  They'll take care of you.  Now go back to Fargo and wonder why life isn't fair.

Do you know this to be a fact? 

What if their unacceptable excuse was hunting or fishing?


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 Exactly.  Or fast forward 10-15 years and these same people are whining because they are broke, or that someone is making more money than they are.  (all the while not putting in the work required)

DirtyMike Said:
 In fact, I'd rather hear "I'm going to be fishing with my dad and a few friends" than some poor excuse when they're just sitting at home.  On the same token, the kid shouldn't get upset when someone is performing better than him and gets that starting spot. 

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MuskyManiac Said:
 Exactly.  Or fast forward 10-15 years and these same people are whining because they are broke, or that someone is making more money than they are.  (all the while not putting in the work required)

DirtyMike Said:
 In fact, I'd rather hear "I'm going to be fishing with my dad and a few friends" than some poor excuse when they're just sitting at home.  On the same token, the kid shouldn't get upset when someone is performing better than him and gets that starting spot. 

agreed with both points

 Adn

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KurtR Said:

MuskyManiac Said:
 Exactly.  Or fast forward 10-15 years and these same people are whining because they are broke, or that someone is making more money than they are.  (all the while not putting in the work required)

DirtyMike Said:
 In fact, I'd rather hear "I'm going to be fishing with my dad and a few friends" than some poor excuse when they're just sitting at home.  On the same token, the kid shouldn't get upset when someone is performing better than him and gets that starting spot. 

agreed with both points

Me too.

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Im the guy who gets on the coaches when they dont work my kids hard enough in practice. Both of my children are healthy, no reason they cant run or skate hard for a few minutes at the end to improve conditioning. My daughter is in 6th grade and my son 8th. Expecting high school kids to attend open gym once a week is nothing, should be 3 times a week minimum if you want to field a winning team. Strength and conditioning win games as much as talent at these lower levels. You can be amazing with a puck, but if you cant skate fast in the 3rd period, what good does it do? not much....

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 I read the text a couple of times and though arguably he could have used more tact, I can't see any grounds for dismissal!  
Makes me wonder if there is more to the story that wasn't  given to the press. Would have been nice to be a 'fly on the wall' during any closed meetings.  
Another alternative might be that the kid who was supposedly offended had a huge donor to the school as  a parent!   "Can him or kiss my contributions goodbye!"  

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Don't know if everyone can open this, may have to be registered for infool'em.

http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/425761/

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curtikins_bac Said:
Don't know if everyone can open this, may have to be registered for infool'em.

http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/425761/

Updated numbers:

Poll

Do you think Joel Swanson's text message to players was inappropriate?

Results

Votes

Yes

 

26
(16.4%)

No

 

133
(83.6%)

Total Votes: 159


"Colorless green ideas sleep furiously"
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Text was probably sent after he spent an hour sitting in an empty gym that he donated his time to make available and monitor for the benefit of the kids, none of which bothered to show up. Dont blame him for being upset about it....

bobkat Said:
 I read the text a couple of times and though arguably he could have used more tact, I can't see any grounds for dismissal!  
Makes me wonder if there is more to the story that wasn't  given to the press. Would have been nice to be a 'fly on the wall' during any closed meetings.  
Another alternative might be that the kid who was supposedly offended had a huge donor to the school as  a parent!   "Can him or kiss my contributions goodbye!"  
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Lycanthrope Said:
Text was probably sent after he spent an hour sitting in an empty gym that he donated his time to make available and monitor for the benefit of the kids, none of which bothered to show up. Dont blame him for being upset about it....

If he's dumb enough to set up an open gym in which he doesn't have any guarantees of attendance, then yes, people should blame him for being upset.

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Quincy,

You're arguing for the sake of arguing.  Give it up. 

Anyone who's ever played sports at a higher level than average knows what kind of work it takes, and there are a set of "unwritten rules".  This example would be one of them.

If you need it explained to you, you will not understand anyway.

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MuskyManiac Said:
Quincy,

You're arguing for the sake of arguing.  Give it up. 

Anyone who's ever played sports at a higher level than average knows what kind of work it takes, and there are a set of "unwritten rules".  This example would be one of them.

If you need it explained to you, you will not understand anyway.

So you don't think I believe what I do? What's to give up?

I know what it takes and what kind of work it takes. I've never said differently. Coaches can still relay that information and attempt to inspire kids. They can't be an a-hole, however. And there are written rules that are in place to protect kids from the unwritten rules. This would be an example of why they are in place. Clearly he needs to step aside if high school baseball is consuming his life so much that he needs to control the lives of his players.

If you need it explained to you, I'll give it a try. Doesn't seem like anyone cares enough to attempt to anyway.

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But that's the problem, Quincy, what exactly are we protecting these kids from?   Hard work, dedication, sacrifice?  

We're raising a nation of pussies and people that make excuses and blame others for the bed they've made.

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Quincy05 Said:

MuskyManiac Said:
Quincy,

You're arguing for the sake of arguing.  Give it up. 

Anyone who's ever played sports at a higher level than average knows what kind of work it takes, and there are a set of "unwritten rules".  This example would be one of them.

If you need it explained to you, you will not understand anyway.

So you don't think I believe what I do? What's to give up?

I know what it takes and what kind of work it takes. I've never said differently. Coaches can still relay that information and attempt to inspire kids. They can't be an a-hole, however. And there are written rules that are in place to protect kids from the unwritten rules. This would be an example of why they are in place. Clearly he needs to step aside if high school baseball is consuming his life so much that he needs to control the lives of his players.

If you need it explained to you, I'll give it a try. Doesn't seem like anyone cares enough to attempt to anyway.

Obviously Musky you didn’t type slow enough…

 

Quincy – your points are valid only if the coach did things to warrant this type of reaction.

The gap in this discussion lies with the fact that 80% of us feel what the coach did was with in his coaching parameters …then there is the 20% of you that feel this was a blatant abuse of authority and over stepped his bounds.

If the coach did in fact go too far then your point is valid…the problem is he did not, therefore negating yours and Allen’s argument

Now the concern here is that unfortunately you truly believe the coach was in the wrong, for this is what baffles me the most as a belief is a tough to change. It does explain a lot though as once again the voice of the few upends the consensus of the whole.

I like white chocolate macadamia nut cookies


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MuskyManiac Said:
Quincy,

You're arguing for the sake of arguing.  Give it up. 

Anyone who's ever played sports at a higher level than average knows what kind of work it takes, and there are a set of "unwritten rules".  This example would be one of them.

If you need it explained to you, you will not understand anyway.

Well said. 

Here's the summary I'm getting from ole quincy boy.  He doesn't like what the coach said and think a firing was acceptable.  Like I have said before, the coach could have been more tactful in his choice of vocabulary.  He shouldn't have been fired though.  There might be more to the story, but a state championship coach doesn't get fired for saying or texting that the work ethic of his players is pathetic. 


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DirtyMike Said:
So be it.  Go hunting and fishing if you believe that is more important than taking a few cuts or grounders.  I'm not saying you shouldn't do that.  In fact, I'd rather hear "I'm going to be fishing with my dad and a few friends" than some poor excuse when they're just sitting at home.  On the same token, the kid shouldn't get upset when someone is performing better than him and gets that starting spot. 

WormWiggler Said:

DirtyMike Said:
quincy, quincy, quincy.  Voluntary doesn't mean you don't have to go to it.  If you have a valid reason for not showing up, so be it.  But some of these kids aren't even participating in a sport.  It is pathetic to think these kids could come to 1 hour of open gym and are choosing to stay at home and do nothing.  I'm glad I don't know you.  I recommend the brass rail in MPLS if you want to start showing your sack to a bunch of dudes.  They'll take care of you.  Now go back to Fargo and wonder why life isn't fair.

Do you know this to be a fact? 

What if their unacceptable excuse was hunting or fishing?

you skipped my first question,  what if the coach in question was pulling kids from the sport you coach?

                                                                                                                         

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yelowjackt Said:

I like white chocolate macadamia nut cookies

Like this?

Neat

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