Stevens Dismisses Girls Coach

Stevens girls basketball coach Ross Dole works through a play with his team during practice in Dec. 2012. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Stevens girls basketball coach Ross Dole works through a play with his team during practice in Dec. 2012. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Claremont — When Ross Dole was hired to replace Carl Desilets as the Stevens High School basketball coach varsity girls basketball coach less than two years ago, he was in seventh heaven.

“I’m a Stevens High School (1985) graduate. This has been my dream to coach at my school,” Dole said at the time.

But that dream was dashed Monday when, after just six games into his second season, Dole was fired.

“I don’t know what to do,” a shaken Dole said Thursday morning. “I’ve been let go. I’ve been wrongfully fired.”

According to Dole, there was a birthday party around New Year’s Day, where both parents and high-school age students were in attendance. A picture of the party was later put up on a Facebook page. The picture showed alcohol in evidence.

Last week, a player on the team showed the Facebook photo to Athletic Director Aaron House, and that started the administrative wheels turning.

“I don’t do Facebook, but there was a Facebook photo that I later saw that was unclear,” said Dole, referring to whether you could tell if alcohol was being consumed by underage students. “But there was some contention that alcohol was present.”

On Monday, Dole was called into the office of Superintendent of Schools Middleton McGoodwin, and was told that he and assistant coach Gary McCall had been fired.

“I begged him to reconsider, but he wouldn’t change his mind,” Dole said. “He told me I got fired because I didn’t react to that photo.”

Allen Whipple Jr., who’s daughter, Maddy, is on the team, also saw the photo in question. He said he couldn’t tell if there was alcohol present in the photo.

“They put Ross’ head in the guillotine and cut it off,” Whipple said. “I don’t understand this town. Ross should be vindicated.”

Ivy Desilets, one of Dole’s assistants and Carl Desilets’ daughter, has been elevated to interim head coach. Assistant jayvee coach Steve Condon will be the interim head jayvee coach.

“We will be advertising to fill those positions permanently in the future,” House said.

After news of his firing spread, four of Dole’s players went to see McGoodwin and speak up for their coach, Dole said. But the decision was final.

A player on the team — whose mother asked that her name not be used — said that she found out Tuesday morning about the firing and called her coach, in tears.

“I was bawling, and I could tell he was having a hard time,” the player said. “I know he goes home and worries about us. He’s such an honest person. I actually thought about quitting, but I thought I would later regret it.”

Dole had been energetic and upbeat about his team’s prospects since taking over the program. He said he could envision championship banners hanging some day from the walls of Carr Gymnasium. To reach that success, he had taken part in the selection of a middle school girls coach and had engineered a position for Desilets to be the director of girls basketball with the recreation department.

“I just want us all coaching with the same philosophy in mind,” Dole said at the time.

All that energy was gone by Thursday, and Dole was left visibly upset over how this situation was affecting his players and his family.

Dole’s daughter, Kirsten, a senior guard, has left the team in support of her father.

“She told me, ‘I’m going down with you Dad. I can’t play for these people,’ ” Dole said. “This is awful. This has torn my whole family apart.”

Stevens (1-7) visits Winninquam tonight.

When contacted on Thursday, House referred all questions to McGoodwin, who did not return a phone call seeking comment. Principal Frank Sprague was unavailable.

Dole is the second Stevens coach to be fired this school year. Golf coach Gary Cullison was asked to step down after the season.

“I felt it was the best option for the program,” House said.

House also said he’s having a hard time replacing track coach Matt Christie, who has taken a job out of the district.