Basketball coaches fired despite successes

Cameron Morelli, Editor-in-Chief

Both the girls and boys basketball teams had impressive seasons this spring – with the girls team finishing off 9-1 in their league and the boys team 8-2. Thus, it came as a bit of a shock when both teams’ coaches, Jason Lowrey and Rod Cortes respectively, were dismissed from their positions on March 12.

With both teams ending their seasons with success, many students – and players – are curious as to why both coaches were let go.

“I just know that something happened off the court,” freshman player Kyle Vang said. “Those are rumors that I’ve heard.”

Despite both teams’ impressive seasons, many players and parents weren’t satisfied with the coaches’ performances.

“I don’t think [Cortes] was good with kids because he always told us if we needed anything to just text him and let him know,” varsity player Peter Ha, a senior, said. “But after our banquet was cancelled, I texted him to ask why it was cancelled – so did another teammate – and we got no response.”

Ha also says that Cortes also made bad decisions as a coach.

“He made decisions that weren’t always good for the team and a lot of parents complained about it and he didn’t really change anything,” Ha said.

“During one game against Chavez [Cortes] was trying to use unorthodox defenses,” Ha said. “We had a game plan coming into the game and he just completely changed it. I understand that adjusting is part of the game of basketball, but the defense we planned to play was a defense that has proved to be effective against the Chavez team.”

The girls team’s coach, Jason Lowrey, was also accused by many of the players’ parents of making bad decisions for the team.

Mike and Erma Alamillo, parents of varsity player Kyrsa Fuentes, filed an official complaint regarding the girls basketball program and Lowrey in January 2015, believing that they needed to stand up for the players due to Lowrey’s refusal to address many issues.

“There was little to no communication with him at all,” Alamillo said. “He would say if there’s an issue with the girls, the girls should talk to him. The girls would definitely do that, but it would just be overlooked and side-swept. Then the parents would go to him and he would just kind of flip around the story.”

Among the many concerns that the Alamillos included in their extensive and detailed complaint to administration included Lowrey’s favoritism for certain players, poor work ethic, lack of communication and organization, and poor treatment towards the girls, even calling this unfair treatment “mental abuse” in their complaint.

“You had drama between the teammates every year that he’s been there,” Alamillo said. “I mean literally blowouts. I don’t think a lot of people saw that. They were more looking at the impressive season and wins, but no one looks behind the scenes.”

In addition to these general concerns, the Alamillos alleged in their complaint that Lowrey was fixing grades and recruiting younger players.

“Jason held a scrimmage between JV players and his 8th grade girls team. This is a violation of CIF by-laws,” the Alamillos said in their complaint. “There is word of certain incoming freshmen that will be on the JV or varsity team next school year. This falls into recruitment.”

Coach Lowrey chose not to address these accusations specifically, but says that some parents take out their frustration on the coach.

“Unfortunately, most parents will always see things through parent-tinted glasses,” Lowrey said. “If they are not happy with playing time they will do almost anything to lash out against coaches regardless of the sport.”

In an article published in “The Record” on March 19, Cortes stated the reason he was given for his dismissal was that “they’re moving on to a different direction.”

Bear Creek Athletic Director Anthony Sahyoun said he could not comment directly on the firings, but confirmed that applications for the two coach positions are currently being accepted.

Lowrey remains as a campus supervisor for Bear Creek despite being dismissed as a coach.

“One of the persons is still an employee here so it doesn’t mean that he did anything despicable,” Principal Bill Atterberry said. “Two completely different issues. Two completely different jobs. One has nothing to do with the other.”

Regarding the concerns from parents, both Atterberry and Sahyoun say that complaints are inevitable.

“You have to listen to their concerns, but you can’t let them run the program,” Atterberry said of the parent complaints.

Nonetheless, parents like the Alamillos say they are determined to ensure that their concerns are heard and addressed to protect the players.

“[Lowrey] had three parents face-to-face with him with issues,” Alamillo said. “Some just don’t want to put up a fight or even stand their ground because they don’t want to worry about their playing time. We had to take a stand for the girls. And it didn’t become about our daughter anymore.”