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Saugus High School boys basketball head coach Derek Ballard has been fired by Saugus principal Bill Bolde.
Ballard was called into a meeting with Bolde Thursday at 12:30 pm and told the program needed to go into a different direction. He remains as a social studies teacher.
The Saugus Centurions went 0-10 in the Foothill League this season, 10-19 overall.
“He said he didn’t know what we were doing,” Ballard said, referring to Bolde. ”He said the guys should have been better free throw shooters and he did not agree with the zone defense we were using.”
Ballard went on to say that he was told there were “a couple of disgruntled parents who complained.”
“He never warned me, never brought me in to talk to me about his concerns,” Ballard said.
In a written statement, Bill Bolde said:
“I recognize the great passion with which Coach Derek Ballard has approached his role as the leader of the Saugus basketball program and I appreciate the way he has given so much of his time and energy to the young men placed in his care.
“I have taken time over the past several weeks to evaluate the program and to consider whether changes needed to be made. After careful consideration, the decision was made that Saugus basketball needed a change in leadership. This decision was not made as a result of this year’s results, nor was it on wins and losses. As this is a personnel issue, I am unable to divulge the internal aspects of a decision like this.”
“District policy is not to discuss personnel matters with anyone,” said Gail Pinsker, Community Liaison Officer with the Wm. S. Hart Union School District. ”There are privacy issues involved. ”
Ballard called a meeting with players and parents currently part of Saugus Centurions basketball on Thursday night.
“They were very upset,” Ballard said. ”At the meeting the parents and players said Bolde never contacted them.”
Many of the freshman players at Saugus are considered some of the best in the Santa Clarita Valley. Four freshman started on the Centurions JV, which finished 6-4 in league. The freshman team, without those four players, finished 7-3.
“I’ve worked hard to get Saugus to respectability and we were about to get there,” Ballard said. ”Whoever comes in after will be considered the savior and me the chump.”
Approximately 30 Saugus players, parents and students turned up at the high school’s administrative offices early Friday morning in a show of support for Ballard. They didn’t think it was right for him to be fired.
“I’m here to support Coach Ballard because I love him,” said junior Caleb Grisanti, a starter on varsity this season. ”Like Alex said he’s like a father to us. He kept us together and is a great coach.”
“He’s had a major impact (on our lives). He’s like a father to us,” said freshman, Alex Ceccacci. ”We are a huge family. We can’t be splitting up. I feel like I’m losing a dad. He’s the best coach I’ve had.”
That show of support means a lot to Ballard.
“They believe in me and I believe in them,” Ballard said. ”The whirlwind of support from players to business leaders… It’s good to be loved.”