Sunday, October 4, 2009

Inmates running asylum?

By Rus Baer
Sunday, October 4, 2009

There was one varsity player on the Hickman boys soccer team who did not play in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss at Rock Bridge.

That one player not playing led to Larry Thornburg resigning his position as the Kewpies head coach in the middle of his third season.

After a meeting with Hickman Athletic Director Doug Mirts on Friday morning, Thornburg stepped down as the Kewpies coach, effective immediately.

During a telephone interview yesterday morning, Thornburg explained in detail his abrupt resignation.

“This is what led to the resignation,” Thornburg said. “Following the Rock Bridge game on Wednesday night, I got an e-mail from the athletic director. There was one player that I had not played at all in the Rock Bridge game, and Doug Mirts in his e-mail said that the parents of that player wanted to meet with me Friday morning at 8 o’clock in his office.”

Thornburg responded that he would be unable to attend the meeting at 8, but he relayed to Mirts the specific reasons for why that player did not play against the Bruins.

Thornburg said that none of the reasons were related to discipline but were based entirely on the player’s performance and ability.

“I had my good reasons as a coach why that player didn’t get any playing time,” Thornburg said. “His parents were not happy with my answer, I guess.

“Rock Bridge has a very skilled, very athletic team, and I just felt like I had some players I needed to have in there if we were going to have the best chance to win.”

Mirts still wanted to meet with Thornburg before the team departed for a tournament in Collinsville, Ill., at noon on Friday. Later that morning, Thornburg met with Mirts.

“At that time, he told me that the parents were very unhappy,” Thornburg said. “The parents were going to start going over his head with their complaints, and it was going to get ugly if we didn’t handle the situation right now.”

Thornburg said he was informed by Mirts that more than 50 percent of the varsity parents had complained to him about the coaching their sons were receiving.

“They did not like my coaching style,” Thornburg said, before relaying some of the reasons given. “Their player was afraid to play in a game because he might make a mistake. Their player did not understand what I was asking him to do in practice or games.

“Doug said that because of the majority no-confidence vote, he wanted me to resign.”

Faced with the news that a majority of the parents and players did not want him as Hickman’s coach, Thornburg decided to step down immediately.

“I agreed, that with more than 50 percent of the parents of that attitude, I said, ‘I resign.’ ”
Mirts did not want to get into specifics about the meeting but said he did not ask Thornburg to resign.

“We discussed that aspect,” Mirts said. “At some point, I asked, ‘Where are we going with this?’ Those were all parts of the discussion. He decided to resign. That was where things ended up. That was his feeling on that.”

Thornburg also has some feelings on the coaching climate in Columbia. A soccer coach for more than 30 years at varying levels, Thornburg believes parental involvement has become a growing problem at the high school level.

“It’s a parent problem, in my opinion, because of the nature of soccer in Columbia,” Thornburg said. “With all the competitive teams that play in Central Missouri, starting young the kids are told to kick the ball and do this and score goals. When you get them in high school, they’ve been doing that for seven, eight, nine years, and you ask them to do something different, and there’s a lot of resistance. And if anybody sits on the bench, they’re not used to sitting on the bench, and the parents are going to raise Cain.

“That’s my interpretation of what’s gone on for the last three years I’ve been at Hickman.”
It’s an interpretation that continues to build credence. Hickman is still looking to replace baseball Coach Bobby Chick, who resigned in August after his first season as head coach, and last spring Rock Bridge girls soccer Coach Kelly Gates resigned five games into the season.

Hickman assistants Adam Taylor and Conrad Hake coached the Kewpies to the consolation championship this weekend at the Gateway City Soccer Classic.

POLLING PLACES: A few more coaching changes might be in order, because neither Columbia soccer team has cracked the state rankings put together by the coaches association.

The same four area teams continued to receive votes in the rankings that were released Friday, with Jefferson City holding the seventh spot in Class 3, Helias No. 6 in Class 2 and Southern Boone No. 10 in Class 1.

Moberly did not crack the top 10 in Class 2 but is receiving votes.

Reach Rus Baer at 573-815-1787 or e-mail
This article was published on page B3 of the Sunday, October 4, 2009 edition of The Columbia Daily Tribune. Click here to Subscribe.

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Driving Directions

  • WAYNESVILLE : Take 63 South Towards Jeff City. Take US-54 W thru Osage Beach to Camdenton. Take MO Hwy 5 South to Lebanon , MO.Continue on MO Hwy 5 South to I-44 E towards Waynesville, MO. Take Exit 156, toward WAYNESVILLE/FORT LEONARD WOOD. Turn LEFT onto HIGHWAY H/I-44-BL/MO-H. Continue to follow I-44-BL.Turn RIGHT onto MO-17/W I-44-BL.1001 HISTORIC 66 W.
  • QUINCY TOURNAMENT IN QUINCY ILLINOIS: From Columbia Take 70 West to Kingdom City. Take 54 North to Mexico and then 54 east and north (54/19) to Laddonia. From Laddonia take 19 North to New London and then 61 North to Hannibal. When you get to Hannibal, you will need to take a right at the sign that says Quincy or to Illinois or to Springfield which is hwy 72 across the river. You will then pick up Highway 172 north to Quincy. In Quincy take the Broadway exit and go left.The fields we are playing on are located on State Street. The streets in Quincy that run West to East are numbered streets. The Mississippi River is to the West and the street numbers get higher the further East you go. When you enter from highway 172 the first street you will see is 48th street. Go left. At State St turn right and the park is a few blocks on the right. The Paul Dennis Complex is located on State between 36th and 48th street.
  • JEFFERSON CITY- 179 SOCCER PARK: Take 63 to Jeff City. Across the river take Hwy 50 toward Sedalia. Take the hwy 179 exit and turn right onto 179. The soccer park is about 3 miles on your left.
  • DESMET High school from CBC High school (about 3 miles): leave CBC and turn left (east) onto N Forty Dr. Turn right onto Conway Rd. Follow Conway Rd to left at S New Ballas Rd and it is about 1.2 miles to the high school at 233 N. New Ballas Rd.
  • CBC High school in St Louis: about 1 hour and 50 minutes. Take I-70 east to US40E/US61S just past Wentzville. Head toward Chesterfield/Forrest Park. About 23 miles to Mason Rd exit. Take S Mason Rd north back over the highway. Turn right on N. Forty Dr and the high school is on your left about a mile at 1850 De la Salle Dr.
  • CAMDENTON: Hwy 54 out of Jeff City to Hwy 5 in Camdenton. Turn left (east) on to Hwy 5. Continue on Hwy 5 for 5 or 6 blocks and can see the school campus on your left (north side of road). Turn on to Dare Blvd and the stadium is a block or two behind the schools.
  • SMITHTON TOURNAMENT: I-70 west to Booneville. Exit on Hwy 5 south. From Hwy 5 take Hwy 50 west. Go to Hwy W and turn south. Follow Hwy W into Smithton. Turn east on to E. Washington St. (I think this is a continuation of Hwy W), Turn right (south) on to Myrtle Ave and the school is 550 Myrtle Ave. Games are at the school.
  • ROLLA: Hwy 63 out of Jefferson City. Continue on Hwy 63 into Rolla. Turn left (east) on to 10th St. Continue on 10th St about 8 blocks to N. Cedar St. High School is at corner of N. Cedar and 10th St. Soccer field is behind the high school.