Berne-Knox-Westerlo has lost a second long-time coach in as many years.
Jim Gillis, who began his coaching career in 1978 in Don Snyder’s program at Guilderland before taking the head boys’ soccer coaching job when BKW was a member of the Schoharie County League, notified school officials last week that he was stepping down. Gillis, who will stay on as the Section II boys’ soccer chairman, cited ongoing problems with a handful of parents as the reason for his decision.
“This started last year,” Gillis said when contacted after The Daily Gazette saw the job posted on the school district’s website. “After two games last year, we were 0-1-1, and had scored three goals and given up nine. I addressed the team and brought some issues forward.
“Some parents took exception to the issues I brought forward. They thought I was spending too much time talking to the team, instead of teaching skills.”
The Bulldogs went on to finish 14-3-1 last fall. But some parents again met with school officials before the school year ended.
“This June, I know an issue was raised,” Gillis said. “Parents of four of the players had a meeting with the superintendent, athletic director and principal and expressed their feelings. They voiced the same concerns a year ago.
“I understand they have a right to voice their concerns. But, at some point, we have to strike a balance between listening to the complaints versus verifying them, and letting coaches and administrators do their jobs.”
Boys’ basketball coach Andy Wright was not rehired prior to the 2013-14 season. While Wright did not have the full support of the administration, Gillis said that is not true in his situation.
“I have the support of the superintendent [Lonnie Palmer], athletic director [Brian Keller] and principal [Brian Corey],” said Gillis, who retired from his elementary school physical education position in the district three years ago. “They told me the job was mine, but to realize that the parents were not going away.
“I chose not to put myself in that position. I didn’t feel after 36 years that I had to prove myself every day.
“I’m disappointed for the kids that wanted me back. I did not want to put them through the same scenario. They’re good kids and don’t deserve to go through that again. I’m trying to do this as a professional, and handle it the right way.”
School officials were not available for comment over the weekend.
Gillis sees a trend which he feels could make coaches think twice about making a long-term committment.
“I think because of what transpired last year, this gave them [parents] a forum where they felt they could proceed,” Gillis said. “Part of the problem is we have so many coaches who are not educators.
“The most important thing for the kids to leave school with is their education.”
Gillis took particular pride in the decorum of the teams he put on the field.
“My kids always played hard,” said Gillis. “[Yellow] cards weren’t tolerated. I only remember one of my kids getting a red card, and that was because he stuck his hand out to stop a ball from going into the net.”