Loyalty in High School Coaching: A Lost Concept

I was towards the end of a long work day yesterday when I received message from a friend about the news that Johnston head basketball coach Bobby Sandquist was taking an early retirement. My friend was not happy about it as he felt the coach was being disrespected, I didn’t think that was the case until I got home read some more: It’s definitely the case.

Coach Sandquist was going through a procedure that a lot of older coaches go through as apart of his IPERS plan. Coach Sandquist had “retired” from teaching and coaching but fully planned to reapply for the coaching job and fully expected to get it back.

That is the standard procedure, Webster City football coach Bob Howard just went through the process and even my old head coach, Randy Hinkel, went through the same process as well.

However, Coach Sandquist was informed by Johnston superintendent Laura Kacer that he would not be able to reapply for his old job as she said the job “needed to be filled in a timely manner,” according to KCCI-TV. The job was given to Sandquist’s former assistant Brian Frick on June 28th.

This case is just the latest in the ever-growing list of longtime head coaches being unfairly and immoraly being pushed out the door. It’s an unsettling trend that isn’t just an issue in Iowa, but across out country as whole. A lot of it has to do with the “superstar culture” millennial parents have ushered in as their children have grown older.

This reminded me of another recent event, albeit Sandquist’s was not nearly as dirty, we think, after the termination of legendary Panorama girls basketball coach Dan Druivenga back in April of this year. Druivenga won over 400 games in his career at Panora-Linden/Panorama, including 6 trips to the State Tournament in Des Moines.

What I had been told by multiple people with knowledge of the situation was that the superintendent of Panorama schools, Shawn Holloway, was upset with perceived lack of playing time his child was getting under Druivenga, a nasty letter was sent by the superintendent’s wife and a couple months later, Druivenga’s contract was not renewed.

Now whether or not that is 100% true, 80% true, 50% true remains to be seen, but I had been told by multiple people with knowledge of the situation that is how it unfolded. If it is 100% true, there is no better example of the “my kid is a superstar and deserves more playing time because it’s my kid” in our country today. It’s a horrible miscarriage of the American Education System and deserves to be investigated.

Perhaps the worst case out of all of this was what occurred down in Fort Madison, when a video went viral of the husband of Fort Madison superintendent Dr. Erin Slater, verbally abusing Fort Madison basketball coach Ryan Wilson at a camp in Quincy, Illinois for not giving their son enough playing time back in June . Slater then went and made the situation worse.

In an email to Pen City Current, it was stated that she “indicates the ‘heavy presence’ of students from Holy Trinity on the baseball team, is taking playing time away from Fort Madison High School players.”

It is indicated later that in an email to the Fort Madison School Board that she disagrees with the philosophy that consideration shouldn’t be given to where players go to school. This essentially encourages the coaches to discriminate against players who attend Holy Trinity and not Fort Madison. Something that I can’t believe is even a remote thought in a persons mind.

With that said, I can only dream to handle these situations with as much class and grace as these coaches have. Coach Druivenga still finished out the school year as an assistant with the Panorama softball team and Coach Sandquist gave thanks to what he called “Truly blessed to have experienced an enormous amount of priceless relationships with players, parents, and coaches.”

As I say all of these longtime coaches be treated with such disrespect and dishonesty, whilst being pushed out, it shows me that loyalty is a lost concept on this “My child is a superstar” generation, where parents think they know more than the coaches.

While there is usually a case where a coach isn’t a nice person and does treat his players unfairly, there are hundreds of cases where a coach is morally right and treats his players fairly. But, because of their demanding style, are seen as described above, when in reality, they want to make players better people and care deeply about them.

Loyalty is a lost concept right now, but I encourage those at my age who are able to step back and take a look at the big picture, study how these millennial parents act around coaches, officials, etc., and learn how to NOT be like them. Then maybe, just maybe we can prevent a generation of coaches being pushed out for doing their job.

1 thought on “Loyalty in High School Coaching: A Lost Concept

  1. Mary Lou Downing July 12, 2019 — 11:02 am

    Well said.


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