Thursday, April 7, 2016
Goffstown Girls Basketball Controversy - Ball is in Balke's Court
The famous saying in sports is, 'winning solves everything'. Unfortunately, that's not that case at Goffstown High School. Despite the fact that the Goffstown girls basketball team just won the D-II state title (the program's first championship since 1988) they are now mired in turmoil. This is more controversy than any team that has won a state title in my nine years of covering NH sports.
Goffstown girls basketball head coach Deanna Goodwin and assistant coach Katherine Goodwin (Deanna's sister and best friend) stepped down just days after celebrating a state title.
"I am saddened to say that what you heard is true - my sister and I have decided to step down from our coaching positions at GHS" Deanna Goodwin told the NH Notebook on the eve of the school's winter sports banquet.
Not only did the Goodwin sisters win a title this year, but they made the finals last season. In five years at the helm, Deanna Goodwin took over a previously struggling program and turned them into a winner.
"I have had the privilege to be coached by the Goodwin's the last four years" said Goffstown senior captain Katie Howe. "I can truthfully say that I have never had a coach care so much about not just being successful on the court, but in classrooms and life as well. What they have done for this program was remarkable and something no one will forget. They had faith in us when other people didn't. These coaches are always willing to help student-athletes grow and will go out of their own way to do so. Our programs slogan has always been to leave a legacy, which everyone can agree that they for sure taught us how to and they have absolutely left one themselves."
How could this happen? What could have possibly caused two coaches who had been so successful to step down so suddenly?
"As to why this decision was made, I do not wish to comment at this time" said Deanna Goodwin, who is also employed as a teacher at Goffstown High.
It's a very hush-hush situation. The tension is palpable at Goffstown High right now. Everyone is walking on eggshells.
"As of right now I would just like to focus on the victory and enjoy the assembly with my teammates" said Goffstown freshman guard Sofia Piriz.
"As of right now, I want to focus on the win and enjoy the assembly with my teammates" said Goffstown starting point guard Sarah Doherty.
"We want to enjoy the state championship" said a parent of a Goffstown player. "We're not releasing anything else until after this goes to the school board. Our kids are young, impressionable and we don't want them saying something they'll regret."
"I can confirm that Deanna Goodwin has resigned as coach" said Goffstown High Athletic Director Steve Fountain. She was not forced into it this, it was her decision. It came as a surprise."
The only one who seems to be talking right now is Goffstown High principal Frank McBride.
"This is (expletive) brutal" said Principal McBride, whose daughter Peyton McBride is a junior guard for the girls basketball team. "That she chose right now to step down, taking all the attention away from the girls who just won the title. It's caused a (expletive) storm."
Goffstown beat Hanover 37-31 in the D-II title game - the same Hanover team they lost to by 20 during the regular season. The Goffstown girls showed grit, determination and teamwork. A lot of people probably just assumed Hanover was going to win that game. But Goffstown believed in themselves, and that's in large part thanks to the coaching of the Goodwin sisters, who were both had excellent playing careers (Deanna at SNHU and Katherine at Bentley).
However, while all of the players were celebrating the title, Principal McBride confronted Coach Deanna Goodwin on the court (according to a Goffstown resident in attendance). Principal McBride's daughter Peyton suited up, but did not play in neither the semi-finals nor the final.
"This is not about playing time" said Principal McBride, who is the former boys basketball coach at Goffstown. "I understand that distribution of playing time is part of learning and growing in athletics."
The day of the school assembly honoring the Goffstown girls basketball team, Principal McBride and his daughter Peyton were noticeably absent.
"We are in Virginia" said Principal McBride. "Peyton is competing in the Jefferson Cup, an elite soccer event. We've been planning this for six months."
This seems to be something that had been building up over some time, however. Principal McBride recalls a particular conversation he had with Coach Deanna Goodwin after a game in early February of this year.
"Did I have a conversation with her? Yes. Did I think it would lead to her stepping down? Absolutely not. It was a private conversation, between myself and Deanna. It was not about my daughter's playing time. It was about basketball."
It seems to be a different story depending on who you ask.
"The coaches both resigned under pressure from Mr. McBride" said the family member of a Goffstown player. "This is because his daughter did not get playing time and he felt the program was going in the wrong direction."
It's hard to believe that winning the state title is the wrong direction. Principal McBride denies the above allegations, however.
"That's the perception on social media and it's (expletive) wrong" said Principal McBride. It's what they're speculating on social media. It's not what it looks like. I did not have any conversations with Deanna about Peyton's playing time."
Tensions between Principal McBride and Coach Goodwin go even further back. McBride's other daughter, Parker McBride also played basketball for Coach Goodwin. She was a key reserve player on last year's runner-up team as a senior.
"I yelled at Deanna during Parker's sophomore season when Deanna told me she wanted to put Parker in the starting lineup for a game vs. Souhegan" said Principal McBride. "I told Deanna she must have been crazy, there's no way Parker should have started that game. Parker wasn't ready. It would have killed her confidence."
There was also a phone conversation that took place this season between Principal McBride's wife and Deanna Goodwin's mother, a conversation which had some tension (according to an article by the Union Leader).
"Deanna's mother called my wife" said Principal McBride. "She told my wife that she did not want Deanna to know that the phone call took place. Deanna shouldn't have known that phone call took place until just the other day - after Deanna stepped down."
So why did Deanna Goodwin step down as coach, just days after winning the state title?
"Deanna would have to answer that herself" said Principal McBride. "She's a complicated person."
"I give feedback to people all the time" McBride continued. "Some people receive it better than others. It's always done to try and help the kids at my school. Every day I do my best. Do I make mistakes? Absolutely. I can be animated, but I never dropped an f-bomb at Deanna in my life. I was invited to her sister's wedding. This is a giant non-story."
So where do things stand now? The parents brought their concerns in front of Goffstown Schools superintendent Brian Balke at a recent school board meeting.
"Parents are upset that the coaches stepped down" Superintendent Balke told the NH Notebook on Thursday. "We had a public forum. Parents were invited to attend and voice their opinions and ask questions. I have told the coaches that we are not moving forward with filling their vacancies."
So what's next?
"This is not an investigation" Mr. Balke continued. "I have been seeking to understand the circumstances. I am still going through the process of findings. I have met with Deanna several times. I will make a decision and release the information at the next school board meeting, on April 18."
What are the parents hoping to accomplish by bringing this situation to the school board?
"I have been asked to hold off talking openly until after the next school board meeting next week" said Amy Doherty, mother of Goffstown sophomore point guard Sarah Doherty.
Although the parents are declining to comment at this time, one guess is that they're trying to get Principal McBride fired.
"I would say that over 16 years I'm a very well liked principal" said Mr. McBride. "But we live in a crazy, spiteful world."
"No, Principal McBride will not get fired" said Superintendent Balke. "There's 2,000 parents at GHS and only a few parents who feel this way."
Some of the parents are requesting that the situation is evaluated by an independent third party, rather than by Superintendent Balke or someone affiliated with the school to ensure a more fair result.
"That would be up to the school board" said Mr. Balke.
So there you have it. A team wins a state title, and as a result a town is divided. I guess winning doesn't actually solve everything, like the saying goes.
"I'm very proud of the coach" said Mr. Balke. "I think they had a remarkable season, winning their first championship in decade. I am both troubled and saddened that the news of the coaches stepping down came the day before the banquet."
There's two sides to every story, and that is certainly the case with Goffstown girls basketball.
"I couldn't ask for better coaches" said Amy Doherty. "But I also understand the reasons they resigned and I support them 100%."
Now we wait to see what happens at the school board meeting on April 18. Until then, the tension will continue to build at Goffstown High.
"I feel bad that my daughter has gotten caught in the cross-hairs" said Principal McBride. "I just wish this was about the kids."
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