School makes effort to restore coaching reputation after series of incidents

The coaches that lead teams on this field have suffered a poor reputation in the past few years

The role of any coach is to guide their players on the field to win games. But the role of a high school coach has just as many expectations on the field as it does off the field. They are to act as role models and sometimes even as parent figures to students who do not have one at home.
However, a number of incidents in 2009 strained the reputation of the Lincoln coaching staff and raised questions about its ability to act as role models. Despite taking place eight years ago, these events are still talked about those who often do not know the facts.

The Cardinal Times looked to how the administration handled the three incidents in 2009. In addition, due to the ongoing need to hire new coaches, we also decided to investigate the current process for hiring and vetting coaches at Lincoln.

The three incidents in question took place in winter, spring and fall of 2009. Ironically, before that year, PPS released a new code of conduct for coaches, stating that coaches were to hold the “highest ethical and moral conduct,” year round.

The code of conduct states that “The coach must constantly uphold the honor and dignity of the profession.”

It also explains that “In all personal contact with the student athlete, officials, athletic directors, school administrators, the state high school athletic association, the media and the public, the coach shall strive to set an example of the highest ethical and moral conduct,” according to The Oregonian.

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In February of 2009, basketball head coach David Adelman was arrested for his second DUI and was found guilty for the DUI in November.

However, Principal Peyton Chapman didn’t fire Adelman, and wrote an email to Lincoln parents explaining why she didn’t fire him.

The email includes eight reasons “explaining [her] rationale and the steps [they] took to making the decision” to keep Adelman.

Chapman stated that Adelman “screwed up terribly” and called his behavior “indefensible.” However, she also explained that Adelman “called us and the press immediately and was honest and apologetic.”

Players from the time defended Chapman’s decision, saying that, despite the arrest, Adelman was a strong role model for his team.

Basketball player at the time, JD Esters, explained that “I saw a grown man [Adelman] cry because he knew he had made a mistake. I don’t think anybody in that locker room thought: ‘I’m going to go get a DUI because it’s acceptable.’”

Stephen Eckelmann, another 2009 basketball player, said the incident “didn’t really affect us as players. [Adelman] was the best coach I ever had and was always good and fair to us.”

The problems that year did not end there. During Spring Break of 2008-09, the Lincoln baseball team went to San Francisco to play games. Head coach Michael Todd resigned after this trip, allegedly due to the school discovering he had taken his senior players to a strip club while in California.

Hank Partlow was a senior on the baseball team on the trip to San Francisco.

“It might have started off as a joke that progressed into going to a strip club. Looking back on it now, if you’re doing that with your players, it’s very poor judgement,” Partlow continued.

Partlow explained that only the seniors went to the strip club, and all of them “were suspended for 28 days.”

Following the trend of incidents in 2009, in the fall, head football coach Chad Carlson and assistant coaches Kyle and Kacy Fairfax allegedly had a drunken altercation with the Portland Police on the MAX. Carlson was fired due to this and the Fairfaxes resigned.

Some players saw the harm in this decision.

Emiliano Haynes-Caldera, a player on the football team that year, explained that the “incident ruined our whole senior season. After Carlson got fired, everything was pretty bad.”

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Chapman has been Lincoln’s principal for the last twelve years, and has been at the forefront of dealing with these incidents.

When incidences with coaches happen, “a typical investigation includes talking to any witnesses, assistant coaches, coaches, students, parents and complainants and then creating a report that we review,” Chapman says.

Lincoln athletic director Jessica Russell explains that “The first step often taken is sending the player or parent back to the coach directly, as long as the player feels safe emotionally and physically.” Russell must then decide if the issue is something that she can handle herself or is beyond her authority as athletic director.

However, the investigation process is “confidential,” Chapman said. “You have to balance everybody’s rights.

“The community wants to know what’s going on, but an employee has a right to confidentiality and they also have a right to present their side of the evidence.”

However, after investigating and interviewing, the process can become one-sided at times.

“The more people you start interviewing, the more it feels like a witch hunt. I think just about every season, every sport, somebody has wanted the coach fired,” Chapman said.

Russell stresses that she wants everyone to have a voice after a reported incident. She explains that “it’s my responsibility to always listen to what a parent or student brings to me.”

Russell explains that people aren’t perfect and said “I really care about a [coach] who wants to improve and isn’t set in their ways.”

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Many of the athletes believe that the incidents with coaches have been blown out of proportion.

The reason Adelman was pulled over by the police for his DUI that night was due to a call from “a private investigator, who was hired to tail the baseball coach [Adelman] by a Lincoln parent” who was “unhappy with his son’s playing time,” according to The Oregonian on November 23, 2009.

“Being at Lincoln, especially being a new coach, [Adelman] is put under a microscope,” said Eckelman. “There’s a lot of high standards. There’s a lot of pressure being a coach at Lincoln. Lincoln is a great school but the parents and everyone is heavily involved so there’s a lot of pressure that goes along with that.”

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Chapman agrees that coaches are under a lot of pressure.

“Lincoln tends to hold coaches to higher standards. We pay coaches so little that it’s hard to get a deep pool of applicants because it pays $4,000 a year. We expect these college-level coaches but we don’t want to pay them.”

According to the PPS Department of Athletics, head coaches make as little as $3,466 dollars a year where assistant coaches can earn a mere $1,541 a year. Coaches financially must have another job, a fact that may be forgotten by players and parents once a season is underway.

Chapman feels that community members should keep this idea in mind.

“There’s this expectation that [coaches] be really nurturing to [their athletes] but also win state titles, be open to parent feedback, not get paid very much and not have their privacy rights,” Chapman says.

Former softball coach Christina Archambault states that “When I was first hired, I was told I was going to have to be very careful of what I do. You never know who is watching. I feel coaches have a right to their privacy but there are things they must be conscious about…”

Lincoln boys’ tennis coach Stuart Allen states that “[Coaching at Lincoln is] really a lot of work…” but is “very rewarding.”

School Resource Officer at Lincoln Tommy Stoffel also defends coaches who may make mistakes.

“I think a distinction needs to be made between people’s past mistakes and whether or not they’re a negative influence on people,” Stoffel says.

“Maybe there’s value in having people who have made mistakes and being able to teach the kids about the consequences of their mistakes and making it educational for the students.”

However, none of this excuses inappropriate behavior by coaches, Chapman says. She says that one thing parents and her can both agree upon is that “we want kids to have a really safe and healthy experience. We want to hire coaches that are good role models.”

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So what is the future for the Lincoln coaching staff?

Russell has to consider the values of the school, parents and athletes when hiring new coaches.

Parents — often the loudest in complaining about coaches — do have a strong say in what the department is looking for in hiring new coaches, Russell said. They should get involved early in the process so that they will have fewer complaints later on.

Russell also feels it is important to make sure not only parents who volunteer often have a voice, but also those who can’t come help out everyday as well. Russell strives to hear from everyone involved to have a mixture of opinions.

“[I] try taking a good look at who makes up  the program and trying to find a little mix of everybody whether it’s age, gender, ability level and financial background,” said Russell.

Despite the 2009 incidents, Chapman and Russell both point out the large number of coaches Lincoln has had in the last eight years, and the relatively low number of coaches who got in trouble during that time. Russell explained that Lincoln has around 90-100 coaches on the staff each year, and to only have a few coaches have significant problems in the last decade is impressive.

Russell says that there is a wide variety of things that she and athletic department is looking for when hiring coaches to ensure a enjoyable and successful season for everyone involved.

“I want to make sure [the coaches] really care about kids and that they care about helping kids get better as people and as athletes,” said Russell.

Russell pointed out that “the best coaches know how to teach” skills that are key for the team and its players to succeed in both sports and in life.

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Lincoln athletic coaches go through the same vetting process as teachers, which requires fingerprinting and a federal background check.

In addition, both coaches and parents can undergo training to become better role models for student-athletes.

The Portland Interscholastic League (P.I.L) and Positive Coaching Alliance (P.C.A), a national organization, formed a partnership in 2016 to help coaches, players and parents focus on life lessons in youth athletics.

The P.C.A. aims to “transform the youth sports culture” to a place “where all youth and high school athletes have a positive, character building experience that results in better athletes,” leading to “better people,” according to the P.C.A. website.

The P.C.A. wants the coaches to “realize that what they are teaching their players carries far beyond the field into the classroom, the home, and even into future jobs.”

Russell feels this partnership could be very beneficial to Lincoln.

“In athletics, there are two goals: winning and instilling values in discipline in young people,” said Russell.

Before every season, coaches employed by the PPS athletic department must attend these P.C.A trainings. Parents can choose to attend, as well.

Russell and the athletic department both hold standards for their coaches that will continually be a deal of great importance for the community.

“Coaches need to be good role models for their athletes and they need to be conducting themselves in a professional way, not in a way we don’t want around our kids,” said Russell.