(Updated 4/16/16 to include Olympia School District response.)
(Olympia, WA) The entire Olympia High School Girls Soccer Coaching staff has resigned after an independent investigation initiated by the school district was completed and the results released. Head Coach Tessa Effland along with Assistants Jeremy Bertrand, Julie Hamilton and Ty Johnson all stepped down as a group decision.
Effland responded to the investigstion and charges against her in a lengthy e-mail which ESN has obtained. In her open letter to OHS players and parents Effland explains her reasoning for stepping down after 15 years and she did so in what you could call Coach Effland style.
Effland first documents the complaints that were lodged against her by what she describes as a handful of disgruntled parents and players who put a petition together and presented it to school officials. The independent investigation began on December 1st, 2015. Effland listed the complaints against her as presented in the petition:
“The petition was to remove me as head coach based on:
2. Use of public embarrassment, ridicule and humiliation
3.Promoting unsportsmanlike conduct
4. Creating an environment of fear and intimidation
5. Unapproachable and not open to constructive feedback
6. Displaying passive aggressive behavior
7. Leaving athletes feeling poorly of themselves
8. Excessive conditioning
9. Failing to inspire athletes
10. Poor role model
11.Yells excessively and uses profanity
12. Inconsistent messages”
Effland goes on to say that after the investigation was completed none of the results or concerns prior to the petition were ever brought to her or her staff for a chance to correct and clear up the issues. She goes on to say that she agreed with several of the findings that she did yell, did swear, can be intimidating, overwhelming, direct, intense and passionate.
There was another allegation that she supplied alcohol to her players at her home and did not enforce the athletic code, she vehemently denies ever supplying alcohol to any minor and says she strictly enforced the code. It could be easily concluded that is true as it is a criminal offense and no such charges have ever been brought against Effland.
Effland says she never did any of these things intentionally to negatively affect her players. She says, “I have loved my 15 years as head coach at OHS. I have always given all I am to the program. I have never nor would I ever with any intention or knowledge make a player feel harassed or bullied. I have tried to promote a hard work ethic, team first attitude and believe this will continue on for years to come. It has been a difficult process for the entire staff. Much of what was alleged was in fact truth as I stated above but much of what was alleged was perception or simply not factual. It has become impossible to fight this investigation and protect my kids and my family. I cannot drag my kids through anymore and not keep my word to the players that trusted me with information.”
Effland looks back on her time at OHS with fond memories in this quote, “I will remember the memories of an amazing ride these last 20 years as an OHS coach with so many incredible moments with so many upstanding players and families. It has been a huge part of my life and one that I have loved immensely and will forever be grateful for. I am proud of all the accomplishments over the last 15 years with the successes of the teams, the fundraising and numerous community events making a difference beyond the pitch. I have tried to teach each of you push yourself past your limits, to live a full 24 hours every day, that you are perfectly imperfect and your best is good enough. That greatness is a lot of small things done well day after day, that there are 86,400 seconds in a day and you should honor each one as you won’t get them back. I hope you take the positive from your time at OHS as there were so many amazing moments that were shared.”
Effland notified the district on April 1st that she was resigning as coach of the Bears and all three of her assistants also decided to step down. In the letter Effland says that decision was made by all 4 to best allow the program to go in the direction the parents and players are hoping for. She says by wiping the slate clean there will be no lingering issues or potential animosity between the current players and parents and new staff.
During Effland’s run as head coach the Bears made it to State 7 times with their higher finish just 2 seasons ago where they took 3rd place. Last season they got eliminated in the state quarterfinals.
ESN reached out to the Olympia School District for a comment and Director of Communications Susan Gifford responded with the following statement: