By Thomas Oide,
Just over a month ago, men’s volleyball coach Julie Crawford was told she would not be returning as the head coach of a program that she helped lead to two consecutive postseason appearances in the last two seasons.
After a five-hour long discussion in closed session at the district office, the Davis Board of Education came to a decision to not rehire Julie Crawford as the varsity volleyball coach. However, Crawford will be allowed to apply for other coaching positions in the future.
The decision made in February was upheld by a 3-1 vote, with Gina Daleiden being the only board member to reinstate Crawford for the 2014 men’s volleyball season. According to Daleiden, Crawford will be eligible to apply for the women’s volleyball coaching position next fall.
After many weeks of silence, members of the board were finally able to comment on the Crawford-Peterson issue immediately after a decision was made.
Susan Lovenburg was the first to comment on the issue.
“I think we have done the right thing,” she said. “I’m certain that it’s not going to make everybody happy, but I think we really carefully weighed all the factors that we were dealing with. We made the best decision we could, the best decision in the interest of the community.”
Tim Taylor, who voted with Lovenburg and Sheila Allen, said that the whole community needs to learn from this experience.
“There has been a lot of bleeding in the community over this issue. It is time for the bleeding to stop,” Taylor said. “There were some mistakes made; what we now need to do is learn from those and not repeat those mistakes. It’s time for Davis to step forward and help carry that ball.”
Daleiden said that she did not find enough substance in the evidence reported in the 72-page legal report about the Peterson family’s complaint.
“I do believe, in this instance, the district went code three on something that didn’t necessarily warrant that,” Daleiden said. “I do not find, in reading the investigation, that there is a preponderance of evidence to support the findings. […] I would’ve liked to see this resolved at a lower level a lot earlier.”
The first half hour of the meeting was all about the public comment. The majority of the women’s varsity volleyball team read letters written by various members of the men’s volleyball team. The boys could not make it to the meeting because of a game scheduled at Oak Ridge. Junior Kinsey Nelson was largely responsible for organizing the reading of the statements.
Members of the women’s volleyball team read statements only from players who had been playing for Crawford for at least one year. From the descriptions in the statements from the players, all the players did was praise Crawford and her coaching.
Richard Lu praised Crawford’s commitment and dedication to the program in a statement read by Evelyn Brady.
“Julie is an intensely committed individual who expresses both passion and dedication to better the kids as athletes and as people,” Brady read. “Not only is Julie a dedicated and charismatic individual, but also a sagacious person in the volleyball community.”
Junior captain Evan Meerscheidt responded to criticisms about Crawford’s coaching style in his statement read by Nelson.
“No player was ever berated or belittled for messing up. The volleyball culture created by coach Crawford was one of support and growth,” Nelson read. “I would like to continue my final two years as a member of the DHS men’s volleyball program under coach Crawford.”
After the school board made the announcement that Crawford would not be reinstated, board members Sheila Allen and Susan Lovenburg led the first reading of a proposed policy regarding conflict of interest for board members.
The last month has been a tumultuous one for Crawford; she learned that she would not be the coach of the men’s volleyball team the weekend before tryouts started. She had been running open gyms for her players for the previous two months in anticipation that she would indeed get the job.