The parents at Arcadia High School have put a new twist on the delicate relationship that all too often exists between coaches and the parents of the players in their sports programs.
In just about every case involving coaches and parents, it’s the parents that, for one reasons or another, are dissatisfied with how the coach is running his program and take their complaints to the administration, too often with the objective of having a head coach removed.
But the parent uprising at Arcadia wasn’t about getting a coach fired. Kerry Taylor had already been fired. The parents, and their player sons, wanted their football coach back.
In his only season directing the Arcadia program, Taylor led the team to a 6-4 record, an immense improvement over the 0-10 record the year before. The Titans had scored 29 total points in 2017. Under Taylor, they racked up 348 points.
After an effort that took nearly two weeks, the parents won their battle.
It came as a surprise to the parents when they learned that Taylor’s coaching contract wasn’t going to be renewed by the school. In other words, the first-year coach was being fired. He was informed of the school’s decision on May 31.
The way the school handled the situation just made things worse. An email was sent to players a half hour before a scheduled practice in preparation for a passing tournament the next day, informing them that the practice had been cancelled. No reason was given at the time.
When a group of parents began asking for more information, Principal Todd Stevens told them he wasn’t prepared to give details, but would hold a community meeting the following week, on June 5, to answer questions. That meeting was attended by a large representation of parents and students who were supportive of the coach, as well as three district governing board members.
The results of that meeting were delivered the next day to acting superintendent, John Kriekard. On Monday, Taylor was offered his job back, and issued an apology. He accepted both the next day.
This whole ugly mess began when the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), the state’s governing body for high school athletics, began an investigation after Arcadia self-reported rule violations relating to recruiting and mandatory off-season practices.
Coaches can hold practices in the off-season, but can’t make them mandatory. Taylor insisted he never made his practices mandatory, but did let his players know that their attendance showed a level of commitment and, if they weren’t playing another sport at the time, they were expected to make the effort to attend the workouts.
As for the recruiting claim, Taylor says he did receive an inquiry from an athlete interested in transferring to Arcadia, but told him he would need to first reach out to his athletic director at his current school.
Taylor is a former standout at Hamilton High School and Arizona State University, and then played as a wide receiver in the NFL for the Cardinals. He stepped into a program at Arcadia that hadn’t won a single game the year before, and says the team had no off-season weight program or conditioning program, and a culture that didn’t hold the players accountable for their attendance.
Evidently, the players and parents bought into the new culture he was installing. And were ready to fight to keep it.