Nov 15, 2010
Players Convince Coach To Resign After 13 Losing Seasons

Just about any high school basketball coach will tell you that the hardest thing he has to do is inform a player he is not good enough to make the team.

That same message was recently delivered in the boys’ basketball program at Thomas Jefferson High in Fairfax County. Only in this case, the players, for all intents and purposes, cut the coach.

On Sept. 22, seven returning Jefferson players sat around a conference table at the school and respectfully yet firmly told Coach Ed Grimm that they did not think he was up to the task of revamping a program that had never posted a winning season or won a district playoff game during his 13-year watch. They wanted a change.

“We just didn’t feel that we would win with him, senior forward Steven Jackson said, echoing the sentiments of other players.

In a way, Grimm, 58, was grateful just to hear the grievances face to face from his players. For months, a small group of resourceful parents of current and former Jefferson athletes had been working for his ouster, taking their complaints to the Jefferson administration and to every level of the Fairfax County school system, asking for a comprehensive evaluation of Grimm’s tenure and his 19 percent winning rate.

The parents sent Grimm by certified mail and e-mail a list of 29 testimonials from parents and players past and present, some anonymous, asking for him to resign.

Grimm, a coach in Northern Virginia for 30 years, felt blindsided. He dug in. There was not one parent that ever came to me and not one student-athlete ever came to me, he said. Not one.”

That changed at the Sept. 22 meeting, and it’s hard not to score this one for the players. Not because they ran off their coach, but because they felt so strongly about taking ownership of their quickly waning high school basketball careers.

The Colonials wanted their athletic experience to be just as enriching as their academic experience at the science and technology magnet school and Ivy League pipeline that attracts many of the brightest students from across Northern Virginia.

“Nobody wanted to use the word ‘resign, ‘ ” Jackson said. “But for the most part, I was surprised at just how friendly the conversation was.”

The players went into the meeting each with a specific issue in mind to discuss. They voiced concerns about what they considered to be Grimm’s aversion to pressing, screening and running a fast break. They told him they did not think he adapted to his talent. They disliked what they perceived to be a defeatist approach. They felt he derided and underestimated their athleticism, falling into the trap of assuming that a bunch of brainiac students could not hang with the players at other schools, even in the unimposing AAA Liberty District.

After 13 losing seasons – including a 10-30 mark over the past two seasons – why would the upcoming season be any different, they wondered aloud.

The players were persuasive enough that shortly thereafter Grimm, despite having the school administration’s backing, stepped down. Jefferson named one of his assistants and former players, Mark Gray-Mendes, 25, as his replacement on an interim basis. Practice begins on Monday.

“It’s not an employee’s place to tell his boss to resign, and in no way do I recommend that or say that’s the way to bring about change, because it’s not, said senior swingman Daniel Barnes, a two-year starter chosen as the team’s chief spokesman at the meeting because of his sturdy relationship with Grimm. The situation was very different and very unusual, and that was just a course of action in a long process of an unpleasant situation.

“It was hard. It just had to be done. I’m just sorry that it had to go that way. He’s a great guy. The type of person he is made it so we could do that as players and made it less unpleasant.”

Grimm wants the record to reflect that it was students who brought about this change, not adults he views as meddlesome and overzealous in trying to chase him off.

“From my perspective, the parents had nothing to do with me resigning whatsoever, said Grimm, a former Fairfax County policeman who works outside of the school system. They could be up in arms today and I would care less. What had an impact more on me was after simply talking to the kids and realizing this is not going to be . . . a situation that I think is good for them or for the school or me.

“They’re good kids, and I like them a lot, and I hope they have a great amount of success. I’ve always been loyal to them and always will be. You have to have that same type of feeling reciprocated, and I just didn’t feel that in the room.”

So as it turns out, the Colonials might have learned a lesson before the season as valuable as any they will learn during it, thanks in part to their self-advocacy and Grimm’s good-luck-guys exit, which Barnes called “one of the biggest displays of character that I’ve ever seen, just the honesty and integrity that he showed.”

“It was eye-opening to realize that you can change things, Jackson said. If things are going badly, even if you’re not the authority person, you can still get them changed. But you have to do it the right way. You don’t need to attack anybody personally to get things changed. You can get things changed while still trying not to hurt anybody’s feelings.”

Players Convince Coach To Resign After 13 Losing Seasons

The Washington Post

Just about any high school basketball coach will tell you that the hardest thing he has to do is inform a player he is not good enough to make the team.

That same message was recently delivered in the boys’ basketball program at Thomas Jefferson High in Fairfax County. Only in this case, the players, for all intents and purposes, cut the coach.

On Sept. 22, seven returning Jefferson players sat around a conference table at the school and respectfully yet firmly told Coach Ed Grimm that they did not think he was up to the task of revamping a program that had never posted a winning season or won a district playoff game during his 13-year watch. They wanted a change.

“We just didn’t feel that we would win with him, senior forward Steven Jackson said, echoing the sentiments of other players.

In a way, Grimm, 58, was grateful just to hear the grievances face to face from his players. For months, a small group of resourceful parents of current and former Jefferson athletes had been working for his ouster, taking their complaints to the Jefferson administration and to every level of the Fairfax County school system, asking for a comprehensive evaluation of Grimm’s tenure and his 19 percent winning rate.

The parents sent Grimm by certified mail and e-mail a list of 29 testimonials from parents and players past and present, some anonymous, asking for him to resign.

Grimm, a coach in Northern Virginia for 30 years, felt blindsided. He dug in. There was not one parent that ever came to me and not one student-athlete ever came to me, he said. Not one.”

That changed at the Sept. 22 meeting, and it’s hard not to score this one for the players. Not because they ran off their coach, but because they felt so strongly about taking ownership of their quickly waning high school basketball careers.

The Colonials wanted their athletic experience to be just as enriching as their academic experience at the science and technology magnet school and Ivy League pipeline that attracts many of the brightest students from across Northern Virginia.

“Nobody wanted to use the word ‘resign, ‘ ” Jackson said. “But for the most part, I was surprised at just how friendly the conversation was.”

The players went into the meeting each with a specific issue in mind to discuss. They voiced concerns about what they considered to be Grimm’s aversion to pressing, screening and running a fast break. They told him they did not think he adapted to his talent. They disliked what they perceived to be a defeatist approach. They felt he derided and underestimated their athleticism, falling into the trap of assuming that a bunch of brainiac students could not hang with the players at other schools, even in the unimposing AAA Liberty District.

After 13 losing seasons – including a 10-30 mark over the past two seasons – why would the upcoming season be any different, they wondered aloud.

The players were persuasive enough that shortly thereafter Grimm, despite having the school administration’s backing, stepped down. Jefferson named one of his assistants and former players, Mark Gray-Mendes, 25, as his replacement on an interim basis. Practice begins on Monday.

“It’s not an employee’s place to tell his boss to resign, and in no way do I recommend that or say that’s the way to bring about change, because it’s not, said senior swingman Daniel Barnes, a two-year starter chosen as the team’s chief spokesman at the meeting because of his sturdy relationship with Grimm. The situation was very different and very unusual, and that was just a course of action in a long process of an unpleasant situation.

“It was hard. It just had to be done. I’m just sorry that it had to go that way. He’s a great guy. The type of person he is made it so we could do that as players and made it less unpleasant.”

Grimm wants the record to reflect that it was students who brought about this change, not adults he views as meddlesome and overzealous in trying to chase him off.

“From my perspective, the parents had nothing to do with me resigning whatsoever, said Grimm, a former Fairfax County policeman who works outside of the school system. They could be up in arms today and I would care less. What had an impact more on me was after simply talking to the kids and realizing this is not going to be . . . a situation that I think is good for them or for the school or me.

“They’re good kids, and I like them a lot, and I hope they have a great amount of success. I’ve always been loyal to them and always will be. You have to have that same type of feeling reciprocated, and I just didn’t feel that in the room.”

So as it turns out, the Colonials might have learned a lesson before the season as valuable as any they will learn during it, thanks in part to their self-advocacy and Grimm’s good-luck-guys exit, which Barnes called “one of the biggest displays of character that I’ve ever seen, just the honesty and integrity that he showed.”

“It was eye-opening to realize that you can change things, Jackson said. If things are going badly, even if you’re not the authority person, you can still get them changed. But you have to do it the right way. You don’t need to attack anybody personally to get things changed. You can get things changed while still trying not to hurt anybody’s feelings.”






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