Search starts for Coal Ridge girls hoops coach
Coal Ridge High School has begun the search for a girls basketball coach to replace Damon Martinez, who was fired on April 8 after the Garfield Re-2 Board of Education approved the move despite protests by teachers and parents.
School Athletic Director Mike Aragon confirmed the move last week, though he wouldn’t confirm a specific reason for Martinez’s dismissal. The school board approved the termination of Martinez’s coaching duties during its monthly meeting.
Aragon would not go into detail about the specifics of Martinez’ dismissal, simply stating that “it’s a personnel issue that I can’t discuss further.”
Martinez’s teaching job at Coal Ridge High School was not affected.
Martinez served as the assistant girls hoops coach for Rick Schmitz prior to Schmitz’ departure following the 2011-12 basketball season. He took over for Schmitz and served as the head girls basketball coach for two seasons, which included an appearance in the 3A state playoffs and a 23-20 overall record as head coach.
“I’d like to wish the girls all the best,” Martinez said on April 11, declining to elaborate. “Whoever takes over the program next year will have some great girls to work with.”
Martinez added that a postseason evaluation process took place.
During the school board meeting, board members, Aragon and Coal Ridge Principal Rick Elertson listened as coaches and parents showed support for Martinez by giving their reasons why they did not feel Martinez should be dismissed. Speculation of arguments against Martinez prior to the meeting ranged from parents who said their daughters weren’t having fun playing basketball to the “negative atmosphere” Martinez presented while coaching.
People at the meeting who came to support Martinez, including Coal Ridge boys basketball coach Paul Harvey and the school’s boys soccer coach, Mike Mikalakis, spoke to the board about Martinez’ professionalism and his passion for coaching students.
Leslie Reece, whose daughter Courtney played basketball for Martinez, spoke to the board about problems and concerns never addressed before Martinez took over as coach. She said he instilled a sense of trust within the program.
“Why destroy everything he has done and the strong basketball program at Coal Ridge?” Reece said to the board.
No one at the meeting, which was broadcast at http://www.riflenow.org, spoke to the board against Martinez.
Garfield School District Re-2 has posted the job on its website, http://www.garfieldre2.k12.co.us, and has advertised the position since April 10. School district spokesperson Theresa Hamilton said the school typically leans toward employees already working within the district, though out-of-district candidates will be considered.
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Coal Ridge 69, Grand Junction Central 23