A group of high school hockey players in Andover, Mass., say they won’t play for a new coach who was installed after their previous coach was removed.
Andover High School declined to renew Chris Kuchar’s contract despite the fact that he was generally popular in the community and many credited him with turning the boys’ hockey program around in recent years.
Players met with school principal Philip Conrad on Wednesday morning to discuss the move. That meeting came a day after 200 students staged a walkout to protest the school’s decision.
According to the Boston CBS affiliate, the players were told Kuchar was "not meeting the expectations Conrad set." The hockey staff was informed that administrators "expectations" in the coaches’ handbook were revised this December — midseason.
After the meeting, the hockey players say they won't try out under a new coach next season. They then proceeded to protest on the streets Wednesday, expressing their support for Kuchar.
"Not only did the kids come out but we had a lot of parents come out in support, as well as parents who don't even have players on the hockey team," said assistant coach Steve Belmonte. "I would say more than 50 percent of the cars going by were giving us honks and thumbs up and stuff like that, so they understand the root of the problem."
Kuchar's record isn't without controversy. In early 2018, he and two assistant coaches were cleared of any wrongdoing by the state Department of Children and Families following allegations that he mistreated players and deprived them of food and water as punishment for poor performances.
The Eagle-Tribune reported that Andover superintendent Sheldon Berman wrote a "lengthy letter" in 2016 to the Andover principal and athletic director that Kuchar "be fired for mistreatment of his son" who was playing for Kuchar at the time.