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Athletes, coaches, parents and high school sports advocates gathered Tuesday for a rally to support furloughed ADs and return to play

By George Edgar
For West Sound SportsPlus

SILVERDALE — Coaches, students, and parents assembled Tuesday afternoon outside the Jenne Wright Building in Silverdale for a rally in support of the high school athletic directors in the Central Kitsap School District.

The rally was organized by parents and coaches to show their desire for the rehiring of the three athletic directors, who were furloughed last month by the school district. The athletic directors are needed to help the school organize athletic activities when sports are allowed to begin again under Covid-19 protocols, organizers said.

“The furloughs were a big part of this,” said Courtney Cotter, softball coach at Central Kitsap, who was one of the organizers of the rally. “AD’s do a lot for the kids and the coaches.”

The three athletic directors — Nate Andrews of Olympic, Bill Baxter of Central Kitsap, and Lauren McDaniel of Klahowya — were furloughed by the district last month in a move since there were no sports being played. Baxter has recently retained legal counsel to fight the furlough. Olympic basketball coach Jon O’Connor resigned his position to protest the furlough of Andrews.

Seeing Bainbridge already holding out of season workouts for their cross country, tennis, golf, and track and field teams, the coaches and athletes want to start working out as well.

“We want our AD’s back,” said Cotter. “They are a voice in our schools. Without them, we’re not being heard.”

At one point during the rally, the crowd chanted, “Bring AD’s back!” then “Let them play!” Students brought signs to the rally, expressing their desire to start to play, at least to prepare for the season.

Kouper Hall, a student-athlete from Central Kitsap, was one of many athletes present at the rally.

“Bring the AD’s back,” Hall said. “We need them if we want to play.”

Central Kitsap student-athlete Kouper Hall shows his support for the school district athletic directors, who were furloughed last month by the Central Kitsap School District.
(George Edgar/West Sound SportsPlus)

Numerous coaches, players and parents expressed their opinions at the rally.

Rick Cadwell, a coach from Klahowya who helped organize the rally, said the coaches want to play, and they want to follow the guidelines for a safe return set by the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA).

“Athletics without an athletic director is like a ship without a rudder,” Cadwell said. “There is no rudder!”

Cadwell added, “Our biggest concern, is that the athletic directors we want to oversee and implement this have been furloughed.” That statement was followed by a chorus of boos as the fans let their feelings be known about the furlough decision.

Marty Huff, a parent who has kids at Central Kitsap High School, said “We care that sports are for our kids. It’s the coaches that are critical to this. To tell them you can’t play for the entire year is crushing.”

Alyssa Dudder, who runs cross country for Klahowya, was encouraged to see students being involved in this process.

“By doing this, it’s important,” she said. “By doing this, it can make a difference.”

Keith Peden, volleyball coach at Olympic, said they need athletic directors to help oversee the return to sports at school.

“We need a plan,” he said. “There is a plan, but not until school is in session. That is not accurate. Opening the season is extremely complex. We need our AD’s to help with the process. Since we can’t, we need a better plan.”

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