Sunday, September 01, 2013

Report: Arcadia High coach violated rules, punished athletes for missing illegal Sunday practices


Anonymous said...

I know many programs that talk to middle schoolers, poach athletes at other current high schools, "meet for runs) on Sundays, etc. and that is just in the NCS. I'd imagine every top program in Nor Cal fudges on these rules.

Albert Caruana said...

I have no doubts that such things take place but when you win a couple of national championships, the microscope is going to be on you and you better toe the line.

I would rather stay within the rules and do my best without cheating. Nothing to worry about that way.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm sure that many coaches do some of this stuff and mostly fly under the radar with it. When a program starts winning, though, it attracts more scrutiny - especially winning at the national level. Also, it doesn't help that O'Brien is a difficult personality. The coaches that do this take a risk - not just with their own reputations but with the kids.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised they haven't given up yet. The guy clearly doesn't like to obey policy and is paying the price for it. It's unfortunate the world works that way, but just because he wins titles doesn't mean he is above the law whatsoever. Get over it, he's fired for good.

Anonymous said...

So two stories at the top of the page about coaches named "jim". Makes me think.... As a kid, which coach would I rather run for? As a parent which coach would I rather have watching over my kid? As an administrator, which coach would I rather have on staff? As a coach, which man would I rather be?

Anonymous said...

Sadly, most parents today would pick the win at all cost, 2 national titles. They may not admit it but look the culture of sport today and you realize the sad truth of it all. Club sports, private trainers, the death of the 2-3 sport athlete, etc. all at the heart of this behavior.

Anonymous said...

Where does one find rules involving middle schoolers?

Albert Caruana said...

I believe each section has their own rules and some league even go above their own sections bylaws (ie. WCAL).

The big thing is the students need to have graduated and they can't participate with the high school teams until the 2nd Saturday in June (this is for CCS).

Perhaps others can chime in about this as well.

Anonymous said...

I think this is sad. I dont know the coach and I dont have a dog in this hunt but here seems to be a successful coach who seems to be getting todays kids to reach for their best. Not just a few but an entire team. The prevalence of the descent to mediocrity in today's culture is painful as compared to the desire to strive for excellence. What are the crimes again? Running on Sunday? That cant be the issue. Tracking their miles? Isnt that what a good coach would do? Trying to convince kids to go out for aerobic sports where it is proven that it helps young minds think and when there is an obesity epidemic.God bless him. Trying to recruit kids who want to be better? I hope someone else hires him. Meanwhile, I wish the new coach and the Arcadia team the best and hope that somehow the distractions of all this dosent wreck their season.

Anonymous said...

Read 'em and weep! Here is the CIF (not NCS) rule about middle school contacts by high school athletic programs, Bylaw 201.

Bylaw 510 also refers to recruiting, but not specifically middle school...

Anonymous said...

Come on, folks, who we fooling here?

How many programs are there that require their athletes to do long steady runs on Sunday, quote, unquote, on their own, and then maintain either an on line log or handwritten log?

Dozens or more!

Heads need to be examined on this one. These kids need that day off for rest and recovery, not to mention a day away from the sport, with the family, and I recall there was a time in America that...well...people actually went to church on Sunday.

Yeah...times have changed, win at any cost...Ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

the 7 day/week practices wear the kids down; family time? church? a morning to sleep in?

can you say burn-out?

Stephan said...

I don't know whether these accusations are justified or legitimate, and I don't know if they justified firing Coach O'Brien. I do know that during my senior season in 2010/2011 it was thrilling and inspiring to see those Arcadia lads go undefeated without dodging big invites, shred course records week after week and not to mention become the first Cali boys team to win NXN and it is a darn shame to say the least to see such a successful coach and storied program go down/get tarnished by this whole affair. Which again, is not necessarily to say the tarnishing is unjustified. I am really stunned and saddened to see this.

Local Coach said...

Just because a program wins is not justification to scrutinize it more. All coaches should be held to the same standards. Especially if the scrutiny results in firing. If having athletes run on Sunday (with or without the coach) is an offense then all coaches that do that should be fired. If talking with middle school athletes is an offense, then all coaches that do that should be fired. I doubt there are many of this that want that.

Only a few times do I see much input from the athletes on the team. To me this is what really matters. Did they like the program? Do they feel better prepared to succeed in the real world?

And one last point, what about all the poor performing programs saddled with sub-par coaching, no motivation and low turn-out? Talk about an offense against the sport and the potential athletes that are lost to the sport forever. How do we get them fired? Perhaps more scrutiny is needed here.

Anonymous said...

this link was posted on the Arcadia facebook page, O'Briens response to CIF about the letter. I used the google OCR so some things might come out looking funny in the copy and paste

Response to alleged “mandatory workouts”

Forsee’s letter alleges in the second paragraph that “current and former athletes” were
required to participate in workouts on Sundays. Although Sunday workouts were
recommended, they were never mandatory. Athletes were expected to run a certain
number of miles per week (which changed from week to week). If an athlete chose not to
run on their own on a Sunday (for any reason such as family obligations or religious
reasons), no penalty was ever imposed. The athletes that chose to take Sunday off would
simply need to run an extra mile or two per day in order to reach their weekly mileage

No athlete was ever precluded from racing for missing their voluntary Sunday run. Tlie
only reasons an athlete would be prohibited from racing would be due to injury, illness,
or disciplinary reasons (such as bad attitude, teacher complaints regarding schoolwork or
behavior) or the coach’s decision to rest the athlete. Either the alleged former athlete
(whoever it was) was mistaken, or the school administration misinterpreted the athlete’s
comments. My client was never asked to explain or rebut the alleged athlete’s statements.
In any event, these accusations can easily be investigated by speaking with the current
cross country team members and the assistant coaches.

Response to alleged placement of tweng orange flags along the race route by
Arcadia XC personnel

Regarding the third paragraph, the allegations are simply false. It never happened.
Neither my client nor his team would ever do something so ridiculous. My client and his
team carne prepared to each and every race. They never needed any advantages. This
erroneous claim was originally made in a letter from the Clovis Invitational Meet
Management, which was sent to A.H.S. when it was decided that the team would not be
invited to the meet at Woodward Park in 2011. My client addressed this false claim on
the phone with race director of the Clovis Invitational, Rob Brenner, when he called
Brenner in September of 2011 to discuss why the team had not been invited back to the
meet. There were other absurd claims in the letter. For example, it was alleged that
Arcadia had put too many athletes on the podium at the State Meet when the team had
won the State Championship. But my client had received permission (from the California
State Commissioner and announcer) to recognize twelve athletes before he took the stage.

Anonymous said...

Response to “early contact” of middle school students

With respect to the allegation that my client contacted middle school students and
encouraged them to run cross country before their graduation date, this is again
completely false. Each year, my client sent out approximately 200 letters through
A.U.S.D. mail on A.H.S. letterhead and A.H.S. envelopes. The purpose ofthe letters was
to invite the students to join the Cross Country Team. It was also designed to explain the
opportunities that were available to students before they arrived to A.H.S. in the fall, and
to inform them of the sports tryout dates. While the letters were dated on the day they
were written (usually before graduation), the copying and addressing of each envelope
typically took days for my client’s teaching assistants to complete. The letters would go
into the A.U.S.D. mail system in mid-June. The mailing date was speciñcally selected so
that the students received the letters on the day they graduated. At no time did my client
ever contact any middle school students in person or by phone before their last day of
middle school. On occasion, my client called students at their home approximately one
week after the invitations were sent. The purpose of these calls was to encourage the
students to join the team. No one at A.H.S. ever told my client not to contact athletes,
whether by mail or by phone.

Forsee refers to a former athlete’s testimonial at the June 24 parent meeting. Forsee
claims this supports the allegation of early phone contact. However, either the former
student was mistaken, or the administration misinterpreted the athlete’s comments. My
client maintains that no such early contact ever occurred.

Anonymous said...

Response to the “grevious issues” section

The ñnal paragraph is erroneous from beginning to end. Even the most basic research
into the subject would have revealed the truth. The runner mentioned in the Los Angeles
Times article was never contacted by my client before his graduation from middle school.

The runner received an invitation by letter to join the cross country team like every other
male student who had ñlled out a questionnaire and submitted it to the athletic director.

The runner was extremely accomplished. He won the State individual Cross Country
Championships twice and had led his team to the Nike National Championship as well. In
addition, he represented the USA Cross Country Team twice in both Poland and Spain.
Unfortunately, the article created the impression that my client “persuaded” the runner to
attend A.H.S-., which was not true. First, the runner was already slated to attend A.H.S.
because he was an A.U.S.D. middle school student. Second, the runner had already been
running with my client’s Arcadia Educational Foundation summer training cross country

Nor is it true that any special consideration was given to this runner. The runner’s parents
had requested a meeting with my client in early August because he had been involved in
a prank during his 8th grade school year. The runner was suspended from school because
he accepted full responsibility for the prank, rather than implicate his friends who were
also involved. The parents felt that they had been treated unfairly due to the runner’s
Muslim faith, and were concerned that his actions would follow him into high school. My
client assured the runner’s parents that the runner would be afforded a fresh start.
Although my client assured them he would be afforded a fresh start, no special
consideration was given to the runner. He was treated in the same manner as every other
cross country team member. Just like every other runner, my client followed the rulmer’s
academic progress, charted his attendance, monitored any disciplinary issues, and held
the athlete to the highest standards of sportsmanship. My client treated all the athletes the

David Vannasdall (the Principal at the time) interviewed my client as Well as the runner’s
parents at the end ofthe 2010 cross country season. My client provided Vannasdall with a
written statement that was forwarded to the CIF office. My client was never warned or
reprimanded verbally or in writing by A.H.S or CIF relating to this incident. In fact, the
issue was resolved to the C1F’s satisfaction andthe investigation was dropped.

Nils said...

It sounds like the substantive issues here have NOT been settled. I just think it's a crying shame that the athletes are caught in the middle of this dispute.

I also agree with the post above by Local Coach, that sub-par coaching is not OK and also deserves discipline, even firing. No student should be handicapped in their athletic performance by an indifferent, disorganized or poorly-trained coach OR assistant coach.

Anonymous said...

My son is a changed person because of Coach Jim O'Brien. He started his freshman year as a timid freshman with low self esteem. He was new to the district and was lost in a sea of 3600 students. Once he started running with the team, I saw his countenance change. He began walking confidently, smiling and even talking more. Given his running schedule, I admit I was concerned that his grades would slip; however, a 3.7 G.P.A. was an improvement over his previous 3.4. When I received his CST scores this past month, I received another shocker...advanced scores across the board with near perfect in one area. The discipline and hardwork of running translated nicely into my son's new academic and social life.

So, does Coach O'Brien just train great runners? No. He takes everyone and anyone, a 13 minute mile to a 4 minute mile, everyone is part of the team. Does he make them run 7 days a week? No. We are a Christian family. We do not allow our son to run on Sundays. Is he perfect? No, but he's an amazing coach whose love for his runners is deep. People can judge from articles written in print, but step onto the grass,watch him in action, and you'll become a follower.

What Coach O'Brien does for Arcadia High goes beyond mileage. He teaches kids discipline, hardwork, persistence, personal excellence, personal responsiblilty, and teamwork. These lessons don't come easy. They happen over the course of hills, a lot of miles, and sweat.

Most schools give pink slips to coaches because they simply can't afford to keep them. Arcadia does not have that problem. What they had was an amazing coach with amazing numbers and testimonies from 100's of students and their families (not 50 as was reported in the article), both past and present, who was fired based on allegations that cannot be proven.

Who will benefit from the dismissal of Coach O'Brien? I don't know, but I'll tell you who will not benefit. Sadly, there will be 100's of kids just like my son who enter Arcadia, lost in the halls. Kids who aren't necessarily athletic, academic, or musical. Those are the kids Coach O'Brien recruited. That's why his team required 3 buses to attend meets. Those are the kids who will never have the opportunity to learn who they are, what they can do, how strong they really are, and that their future is full of amazing potential. That is world according to Coach O'Brien.

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