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Coaches Unite in Effort to Address Concerns, Letter Says

A letter from the town's coaches indicate various concerns over the past several years, one they hope a union will serve to address.

The following was written within the blogs section of Berlin Patch. It was republished with permission in Top News and was one of the most read articles through the day Tuesday.

To the members of the Board of Education and Berlin Town Council:

This letter is intended to formally announce that the individuals who coach within the Berlin school system have organized themselves and developed the Berlin Interscholastic Coaches Association or BICA. We are an association, comprised of 75 coaches at the high school and middle school levels, organized as a means of having a unified voice to represent coaches' concerns and to support each other in times of need. A seven-member council, who will act as the voice of the association, represents the coaching collective.

We feel it is important to give a brief rationale for why we have chosen to take the step of forming an association. There is a protocol that has been in place concerning the lines of communication between parents, athletes and coaches. This protocol has, overall, been adhered to by all parties and has been very successful. Unfortunately, many times over the past several years, a common theme has presented itself, a theme that has made the already difficult task of coaching interscholastic athletics even more challenging. The theme to which we are referring is the consistent and constant abuse of power that has occurred by the President of the Board of Education.

Unfortunately, the President has, on far too many occasions, used his position to harass, bully and-intimidate coaches, side-stepping the protocols when it suits him. This unfortunate harassment has led to the entire Athletic Department running under pressures that counter a healthy instructional and educational atmosphere.

To that end, we are aware of a letter that was written by a group of athletes to the President of the Board of Education passionately describing the feelings they share on the unfortunate effects of this abuse of power. We would like to take a moment to formally support these athletes and commend them on their bravery in taking the daunting but necessary step of presenting their concerns to the source of the problem in the hopes that others would protect them. We understand that the letter may lack specifics in terms of the many incidents that have occurred over the years.  We feel it is appropriate to offer the members of the Board of Education and the Town Council the opportunity to contact us if they, at any time, require any specifics in order to satisfy any concerns on this topic.

Our current intent is to keep all of these issues 'in house' out of concern for the athletes, coaches, administrators, and the overall black eye that this town would receive should many of these concerns be brought to the general public.

Our desire is that everyone, regardless of position, adhere to the chain of command as constituted in the Athletic Handbook, and that an investigation into the events surrounding the abuse of power that has consistently occurred over a period of years take place and that the appropriate actions be taken. To this end, we have actively searched for the Board of Education Code of Ethics, but as of this time we have been unable to procure a copy despite looking in several places for it.

Thank you for your time and we look forward to being a part of the solution in this current  situation and to working in the future to ensure that Berlin maintains its reputation as a place where people love to live, work and coach.

Respectfully,

BICA Council

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T.B. February 04, 2014 at 06:43 AM
I am saddened and disheartened by this turn of events in the Berlin athletics program. My first reaction is to question the motivation and intent of those who felt it necessary to form a coaches’ association and post this letter of intent on a public site when they claim their intent was to keep these issues “internal”. Furthermore, it is ludicrous to suggest that you are doing this out of any concern for the athletes when you accept no responsibility for any failings in our athletics program and point the finger at one individual. What message are we sending our student athletes on respect and resolving conflict? As someone who has children involved in school sports – I have every hope that this will be resolved in a manner that is in the best interest of Berlin School’s athletic program. We can only do that if we agree that we all have a responsibility in its success and we all share in the blame on its failures. Administrators – in the best interest of the town and Berlin Schools athletic program, I would suggest a “call to action”. Rather than looking to place blame somewhere, we all need to be asking ourselves first what we could have done differently or better. We need to look for ways to leave the sport better than we found it and be part of the solution, not the problem. Parents– it’s our role to provide our children with encouragement and positive reinforcement by promoting hard work, competitive spirit and good sportsmanship. It is not acceptable to criticize game play, athletes, or coaches. Athletes – are you working at your potential, coming every day prepared to work, supporting your school, cheering on teammates, respecting coaches and other officials, and winning or losing graciously? Coaches – are you inspiring students to become better athletes, teammates, and competitors? Are you engaging all your players and fostering an environment that rewards hard work, integrity, and respect for your teammates and competitors? Let’s face it – you are fortunate to have a pool of seasoned talent available to you to field a competitive team. The expectation is that you will be able to develop a team that truly fosters school spirit, a love for the game, self-confidence and respect for one another. In my opinion, that is a winning team – regardless of the number of wins and losses. As for me, I’m going to continue to attend sporting events, getting my kids to practices and games on time - prepared to contribute, cheering on the players, and allowing the coaches to do the coaching, trusting that they are focused on promoting excellence, good sportsmanship and pride for their team and school.

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