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Keep South Ice Hockey Coach Stan Gutt

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Middletown High School South ice hockey coach Stan Gutt was told last week that he will not be asked back after 11 seasons of successful South hockey.

Why? We don't know because Hockey in Middletown (H.I.M), the non-profit corporation founded in 1999 to contribute funds and render assistance for the administration of interscholastic ice hockey in Middletown, wasn't advised of the Athletic Department's plans for a "new direction". 

The following section of the 2013-2014 AGREEMENT BETWEEN MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF EDUCATION AND HOCKEY IN MIDDLETOWN, INC. reads:

Page 3. #8. Although the Board of Education shall have full administrative and operational control over the interscholastic ice hockey program, it shall, through its High School Athletic Directors and coaches, give HIM advanced notice of its plans for the operation of the program and provide an opportunity for HIM to offer suggestions and recommendations concerning the program. 

HIM's Trustees did not receive any advanced notice even as the Board is set to approve a new coach at the June 24, 2014 meeting.

Coach Gutt does not do this for the money. He loves hockey and loves to coach Middletown South hockey in particular. In fact, this past year he moved his family into the district.  Coach Gutt has guided the South Hockey team to 3 Shore Conference Championships, 1 State Final and 2 State Semi-Finals. What new direction does the Athletic Department plan to go? 

This capricious, ill-considered act will have a negative impact on the hockey program for at least the next few years.  The 2013-2014 team had a very good year even with very few upper classmen and many inexperienced freshmen.  By the end of the year the team was on the verge of growing into an excellent team. 

That is something Coach Gutt should be rewarded for— not let go for! At the beginning of the year, nobody thought the South hockey team would compete like it did.  Coach Gutt and his staff worked very hard, developed the student athletes, and molded a team into one with character and purpose — and most of those players are coming back. Well, maybe.  

What the Athletic Director and Administration may not know, or at least have not considered, is that the best high school hockey players that play at the Junior level must consider their outside travel team before the high school team.  Travel coaches make it difficult for the student athletes that want to play for their high school hockey teams.  

Coach Gutt and his staff understand this well.  They work to make sure that the best players will want to go out of their way to play with their classmates for Middletown.  He has worked around schedules to ensure that the student athletes are able to play in both programs. This year Coach Gutt created the necessary team character and camaraderie that will entice those travel players and their families to support the Board of Education and Hockey-in-Middletown. 

Finally, the Board should reject the recommendation of the Athletic Director/Superintendent and ask Coach Gutt and his staff back for next season.There are always a few student-athletes and parents that have a grievance here or there in every sport. The Board should not set policy based on a few well connected squeaky wheels.

The Board should do what’s best for the interscholastic athletic program as a whole.  By any measure that would be to bring back Coach Gutt and his staff.

 



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