Andover School Committee
United States of America

When considering this latest coaching story out of Andover, please look at the larger picture. This is three coaches fired/suspended in a short amount of time. At what point do we step back and realize the problem is not the coaches, but rather a posionous culture of crazy sports parents and students enabled by an administration with an agenda that has sent a clear message that they will support your character assassination attempt?

In December it was JV soccer coach Dave Cudmore who was fired based on the complaint of a mother who was angry her daughter got cut. That mother sat in her car and watched the entire 13 hours of tryouts. Cudmore remains terminated.

In February it was Varsity hockey coach Chris Kuchar and two assistants who were removed from the bench for three weeks in the middle of the season based on an anonymous complaint to DCF claiming food and water were withheld from players for 12 hours during a road trip. Despite the fact that the entire trip only lasted 8 hours and there were receipts from a Panera Bread that proved the players were allowed to eat the investigation dragged on. In the end, it turned out the player didn’t eat breakfast at home and ignored emails alerting the team to pack food or bring money for the concession stand or many nearby eateries. The team went on to reach the Super8 where they lost two exhilarating overtime games. Who knows what they may have achieved had their season not suffered such a tremendous disruption. Kuchar never received an apology from any school or town official and the player and his family received no discipline.

Now we have EJ Perry removed from the bench, again mid-season, because of player complaints, including a senior who was upset for being admonished and disciplined for petulant insubordination during a game. As the player’s own Instagram post readily admits, he refused to come out of the game for a substitution, in violation of many rules outlined in Andover’s official Athlete’s Handbook which is published by the AD himself. Other players have indicated on record that the seniors involved plotted this coup against Perry and several more have indicated the same anonymously.

EJ Perry is a lifelong coach and educator with an indisputable record of success, but more importantly he brings passion, knowledge and dedication and his ultimate focus is where it belongs – on placing his student athletes onto a college team that will be a proper fit. There are countless stories of the great lengths he has gone to play matchmaker between his athletes and college coaches. He is also famous for writing personalized handwritten motivational notes to his players before games.

EJ was the Lawrence Eagle Tribune Coach of the Decade for the 2000s, when he coached Salem High School to two boys basketball state titles and six consecutive volleyball state titles. His career volleyball record at Salem was 112-0 (not a misprint). Before taking that job he had never played or coached volleyball and Salem was coming off several losing seasons. He left Salem to return to his hometown of Andover, where he was a legendary three-sport athlete in the 80s. Originally he came to coach football and eventually took on girls basketball and boys volleyball. In 2016/17 he became the first coach in state history to coach three different sports to an MIAA Sectional Final in the same year.

We, the good people of Andover, wish to express support for our high school coaches and concern for what has happened in our town in recent months with suspensions and dismissals of several coaches. We believe a bad precedent has been set that athletes and their overzealous parents can ruin a coaches reputation and legacy with loose allegations without fear of consequence. We believe the balance of power needs to shift back to the Coach and we urge town leaders to take action to ensure this happens.

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The Support Andover Coaches petition to Andover School Committee was written by Dan Gillette and is in the category Education at GoPetition.