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Lincoln High soccer rallies around coach

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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Approximately 100 students, parents and staff voiced their opinions Wednesday night on two contentious issues at the Western Placer Unified School District Board meeting. The majority of the students and adults at the meeting were concerned with the upcoming replacement of soccer Coach Frank Banuelos, who started the girls’ soccer program at Lincoln High School in 1992. Jason Treanor, a Lincoln High School physical education teacher, applied for Banuelos’ job, according to news reports. As Banuelos is not a teacher, Treanor received precedence. In emotional pleas to the board to stop off-campus coaches from unexpectedly losing their jobs in the future, nine students, coaches as well as Banuelos addressed the board. “I’ve known Frank for 10 years, as a player, and I’ve been coaching with him,” said Michelle Thixton-Ruiz, who coaches girls’ junior varsity soccer at Lincoln High. “There wouldn’t be a girls’ program without Frank.” Thixton-Ruiz described Banuelos as dedicated and said he served as a role model to the players. “The way in which it was brought about makes me angry,” Thixton-Ruiz said. “I don’t feel (Treanor) is appropriate to carry this team forward.” Senior soccer player Grace Everett spoke on behalf of the girls’ soccer team. “We all feel this was disappointing and handled unprofessionally,” Everett said. “I recognize the right of teachers to have coaching jobs over (an off-campus) coach…but it doesn’t look like our feelings have been considered.” Everett said that the issue has tainted the season and will divide the team. “I don’t favor one coach over the other,” said Everett, who has played for both coaches. She added that the girls “will all come out and play,” regardless of who the coach is. Banuelos took the podium in tears. “I’ve donated thousands of hours as well as my own money over the last 16 years,” Banuelos said, adding that he has helped raise more than $35,000 for the program. As Banuelos spoke, team players wiped their eyes. The three-minute timer expired but no one moved to stop Banuelos from talking. “It’s very sad that Mr. Treanor put his interests before those of the girls,” Banuelos said. “I truly feel I was stabbed in the back by Treanor.” Banuelos warned that his termination is setting a precedent for all off-campus coaches to be replaced on a whim. Banuelos was told he had lost his job two weeks before tryouts, which start Feb. 11, he said. As Banuelos walked back to his seat, the majority of the audience rose in a standing ovation. The overarching message all speakers emphasized was to ask the board to do something to prevent the off-campus coaching positions from being so insecure. They cited the need for coaches to build a program and bond with the teams to be successful. As the issue was not an already-scheduled agenda item, the board was unable to act on it. “We heard you loud and clear,” said Board President Paul Carras. “If there’s a way we can prevent something like this from happening in the future, we will.” Treanor did not speak at the meeting, but left a phone message in response to a call Tuesday night from News Messenger Sports Editor Russ Edmondson. “It’s a district decision, and it’s still going on,” Treanor said. “It’s a personnel decision, and I’m not able to comment. They are still working that out. When everything is settled and done, I’d be happy to talk about the girls soccer program.” “He started the girls soccer program and built the program from scratch and started it from two years as a club team,” Athletic Director Donna Tofft told the News Messenger. “He didn’t get a stipend (at the beginning) and did a lot with his own money and has been consistent and done a good job with it.” For more information on this story, view Edmondson’s story online at http://lincolnnewsmessenger.com/detail/105220.html. The other controversial issue at Wedneday’s meeting was about changing the middle-school boundaries, which has angered parents of Carlin C. Coppin Elementary School students since they discovered the issue and brought it up at the previous board meeting Jan. 21. Mary Boyle, assistant superintendent for education services, said the issue will be tabled for one year. That announcement, however, was a mixed blessing for parents, who worry about going through the exact same situation in 12 months. “I think we’ve established that, at this point, there’s no compelling reason to make the change,” said Monica Cline, whose three children attend Carlin C. Coppin. “I’d like the board and the district to actively engage with the parents. I think a lot of this issue has to do with managing the emotions of the parents.” Cline added that parents and district officials should work together on the issue this year. The decision to revise the middle-school boundaries was a result of flagging enrollment at Glen Edwards Middle School, Boyle said in an informational meeting Jan. 27 at Carlin C. Coppin. The plan was to change Carlin C. Coppin from feeding Twelve Bridges Middle School to Glen Edwards, which would result in almost-equal enrollment numbers. Mike Agrippino, a Glen Edwards teacher, said that many of the Glen Edwards teachers were disappointed in the comments made by some parents about the school. “In a time when our country is embracing the high ideal of judging people by the content of their characters and not on their outward appearances, I think the same ideal should apply to all of our schools here in Lincoln as well,” Agrippino said.