|WW doesn’t renew girls’ basketball coach’s contract|
West Washington High School girls’ basketball coach was preparing to go to bed on Monday, May 11, when his phone rang. He could barely utter the word “hello” before an apology began to come from a school board member on the other end.
The apology was because in the school board’s regular meeting that night, they voted 5-2 not to renew his contract.
Tomlinson, who took over a team with 24 total wins from 2001 until the end of the 2010, complied a 46-60 record in his five years at the helm of the program including back-to-back winning seasons in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
In those winning seasons the Lady Senators were one possession away from winning sectional championships.
“The school board has not given me a reason,” Tomlinson said of the non-renewal of his contract. “Brian Farmer and Matthew Deaton voted to renew my contract, but I haven’t been given a reason.
“I think it’s good-ole boy politics and it’s about playing time, that’s my guess. I think I got rail-roaded and I assume it’s about playing time. I haven’t been told and I can’t answer why!”
The five school board members who voted not to renew Tomilnson’s contract were Jim Hughes, Tim Barksdale, Doug Brown, William VanCleave and Joe Walker.
Tomlinson said all coaches always know in the back of their mind that something like that could happen, but he had no indication that there was a possibility of his contract not being renewed.
“No matter what sport you coach, or at what level you are at, there are always a couple of people upset,” he said. “Not only did I know it was coming, but I didn’t realize there was even a board meeting.”
The Lady Senators finished the most recent season with a 4-18 record, which most considered a pretty good record considering the program lost six seniors from the year before.
Of those four wins, one of them came over Class 3A Sectional Champions the Salem Lady Lions, who had beaten WW by 54 points earlier in the season.
Besides being blind-sided, Tomlinson said he is disappointed because there has been so much energy poured into the youth programs and that is going to pay off in a big way.
“Someone is going to be handed all that talent that is coming on a silver platter,” he said. “Without doing any work, they are going to reap the benefits.”
Tomlinson called this year’s group of West Washington seventh graders the most talented he has seen in his 20 years of coaching.
“Even when I was at Salem, I had some good teams, but I never had a group that talented and that athletic, that had every position covered,” he said. “There are really good players at every position and they have really good shooters. It’s disappointing from that standpoint.
“Another thing that’s disappointing is our current players, I really thought we could have been better this year. I was looking forward to it.”
Once word of Tomlinson’s contract not being renewed spread to former players, a social media buzz began and they didn’t pull any punches.
Tori Packwood, who was one of the first players Tomlinson coached voiced her disapproval on facebook.
“I am absolutely disgusted with West Washington and the way that school is ran,” she said in her post on May 12. “Our school board is a complete joke. Thank you for getting rid of the best coach our girls basketball program has ever seen or will ever see.
“. . . Thank you Wade for being the best coach I’ve ever had, a great role model, and for teaching me about life in general.”
Another former player Shelby Springer, who was part of the team that nearly won two sectional titles agreed. She is even organizing a group of Tomlinson supporters to attend the school board’s June meeting.
“I think it’s important for our voices to be heard and to have a say in the decision that has been made,” Springer posted on her facebook page. “ We need everyone there for support, so mark your calendars!”
“The former players have done this on their own,” he said. “I have not called anyone, but my phone has been ringing off the hook. I have not asked for it, I have not encouraged it. They did it on their own and I think that speaks volumes. How former players speak about you and react to something like this, to me, speaks louder than anything else.”