The former coach of a high school softball team in Alabama says she is “not sure” why she was relieved of her duties, a decision that has prompted a protest by her players.
The softball players staged their protest at Grissom High School in Huntsville, Ala., before local TV cameras because they say their coach, Macie Morris, was removed last week after she held voluntary player evaluations earlier this month. That’s a violation of the rules set by the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA), which allows spring sports evaluations to be held only during the first semester of the school year, according to reports.
“I’m heartbroken over the decision and I’m thankful to see the support of my players and parents,” Morris told AL.com on Thursday. “Seeing that these girls are fighting for something they want is a lesson they learned on the field. And they’ve applied it to off the field. If they take this determination and apply it to their game, the possibilities are endless for them.”
Morris did not comment on the reason behind the decision to remove her as coach “because I’m not sure,” she told the website.
WHNT News 19 in Huntsville obtained a May email from Morris to Grissom athletic director William Beumer in which she informed him that she would be conducting summer evaluations of her players.
“I wanted to make you aware of our schedule and ask if you see any rule violations,” she wrote to Beumer. “Also, when conducting said evaluations, what all will be required for the girls to step on the field? Do they need a physical or would it be okay to have parents just sign a release/waiver form?”
Beumer replied in an email, “That looks good to me. They do need a physical,” according to WHNT.
The evaluations were held June 6-8, according to a tweet from the Grissom softball Twitter account.
The AHSAA considers the offense an administrative violation, WHNT reported, which officials said typically results in a $250 fine but with no restrictive probation, such as a postseason ban.
Grissom officials have declined comment. In a statement, Huntsville City Schools said:
“Huntsville City Schools hires individuals as teachers. Additional responsibilities, such as a sponsor of a club, organization, or coach, can be added as a stipend or supplement to their primary job as a classroom instructor. Typically, decisions for those additional duties are made at the school level. A decision was made for a change in the leadership of the Grissom Softball Team that would be in the best interest of the program. Impacted personnel are always made aware of the reasons for the change.”
In her lone season at Grissom’s softball coach, Morris led the Tigers to a 14-27 season, one win away from the Class 7A state tournament. For her efforts, Morris was named the Huntsville All-City Softball Coach of the Year.
Players have tweeted photos in support of Morris with the hashtag #savecoachmorris.
“We had momentum going last year,” Grissom senior first baseman Kirsten Campbell told TV station WAFF. “We were one game away from going to state, and it’s frustrating that we got that ripped away from us. I feel that we could have gone very far this year, or we could go very far this year if Coach Morris was with us.”
Campbell said the players tried to approach Beumer at the school on Tuesday but “he denied us,” WHNT reported.