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By Georgie Kulczyk
The Courier 

Glasgow School Board Faced with Another Coaching Controversy

Flaten Explains Statements

 


At the regularly-scheduled Glasgow School Board meeting held Aug. 17, the district’s trustees were questioned about the hiring process for the position of head boys basketball coach.

When the time came for the board to approve hires as recommended by the school’s activity director, Brenner Flaten, one of which was to hire Norm Braaten as the head boys basketball coach, one of the applicants for the position asked to be heard.

Brandon Hoerster stood before the trustees and expressed his disappointment in how things were handled in the hiring process, and asked that they reconsider before making a decision. “I applied for the position in March when it was advertised,” he said. “I’ve been in touch and made myself available this whole time. I never even got an interview.”

Hoerster went on to explain that though he doesn’t have any head coaching experience, he has been employed in a managerial position for more than ten years, has sat on numerous boards, and has coached both baseball and basketball. “I see myself as a teacher,” he said. “I want to share my knowledge with these kids.”

Hoerster shared that he had been offered three basketball scholarships out of high school, but had to turn them down “because of my body.” “I’ve been around the game for 30 years,” he added. “I think I can bring the program back to what it used to be, and to what it can be.”

Hoerster stressed his opinion that a change is needed for the program. “Numbers are down,” he explained. “For a school of our size, to have roughly 14 boys come out for basketball? There has to be a reason,” he said.

“I offered to hold open gyms at the school this summer and I was turned away,” said Hoerster, “so we opened up the gym at the Evangelical Church for the kids. They all came. We had 15-25 kids show up all summer.”

“They had open gym at the high school, too,” he added. “You know how many kids showed up for that?” he asked. “Zero.”

Trustee John Daggett expressed that he would like to set aside the decision to hire for the position until after more discussion. “I would like to get more information,” he said. “There’s something going on.”

Trustee Suzanne Billingsley also expressed a willingness to hold off on the decision so more information could be gathered. “What I’ve heard most from parents is, ‘We need change’,” she said, although nobody that she talked to could really pinpoint what change was needed.

Billingsley also indicated that she had talked to Flaten and felt she had a good understanding of why he made the decision. “Maybe we should allow Brenner to explain how he reached his decision,” she said.

Given the opportunity, Flaten said, “None of these decisions are easy to make. You gotta make the best decision for the kids. Just because you apply doesn’t mean you’re going to get an interview.”

Flaten further explained by saying, “There is a process in place that scores applicants to decide whether or not to interview.”

Trustee Alison Molvig suggested that with the limited number of applicants for the position, it may have been beneficial just to “hear them out.”

Flaten continued, saying, “You have to assess the program you have now. I don’t think change is always a good thing, just to change things. You’ve got to do what is best for the program and what’s best for the kids.”

“It’s not just a head coach thing,” he added. “There is a deep-rooted problem and it’s not that.”

Often during the discussion, Hoerster used the word “we”, and Billingsley asked him about that. Hoerster indicated he was talking about Mike Myrick, who was also present at the meeting and who had also applied for the position with no interview offered. “If you were to be hired as head coach, would you come as a package?” she asked.

Hoerster explained that he would conduct his own interviews and hire who he thought would be best for the position.

Given the opportunity to address the trustees, Myrick expressed his frustration with the process and the current status of the boys basketball program. “I’ve seen things from a player’s perspective, a coaches perspective, and a parent’s perspective,” he said. “We are having the same issues we had 20 years ago.”

Suggesting that somebody should talk to the players, Myrick said, “We need to figure out why we are losing numbers. Why are we losing juniors and seniors?”

“Maybe it would be better to talk to kids that have already left the program,” he added. “That way they have nothing to be scared of as far as playing time.”

Eventually, the board did decide to table the vote, at least until the next board meeting, and moved on to other agenda items.

When contacted for comment, Flaten explained that the Glasgow School District uses scoring rubrics to help determine interviews for administrators, teachers, custodial staff, aides, paraprofessionals and/or coaches. Among other things, the rubric factors in a candidate’s educational background, previous experience at the level of application, previous experience at any level, qualifications, completed resume, letters of recommendation, and application materials.

In response to Hoerster’s statement that he was turned away from running open gyms at the high school, Flaten said, “Anyone who is using school facilities, as the direct supervisor of any activity, that involves the students of Glasgow High School must pass a background check and be approved by the school board in any capacity.”

Finally, when asked about the deep-rooted problems he mentioned regarding the boys basketball program, Flaten gave the following statement: “I believe we are trying to solve these issues currently. We are bringing a 3rd/4th and a 5th/6th grade skills program into our schools for the first time ever. We want to introduce both boys and girls to the game at a younger age. The basketball skills program needs to model itself after other highly successful “feeder” youth programs in Glasgow. Scottie football has 90-plus kids in Knights of Columbus tackle football (grades 3-6), the Glasgow Wrestling Club has 80-plus kids ages 4-18 that has brought unprecedented success to our mats, and our excellent softball program has had the luxury of having a youth fast-pitch league in town that is both strong in numbers and strong in parent involvement.”

This is the second time in the last six months that controversy surrounded a head coaching position at the high school.

See “Letter Sheds Light on Kolstad’s Departure from GHS Basketball”, Glasgow Courier, May 25, 2016.

 

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