Column: Tarwater not concerned over coaching turmoil at STHS |

Column: Tarwater not concerned over coaching turmoil at STHS

If proven coaches like Joann Allister and Matt Tillson can be told to reapply for their positions, then who has job security at South Tahoe High School?

Dominique Westlake, a 17-year boys’ cross country coach?

Mike Patterson, the only boys’ golf coach the school has ever had in 15 years?

The reworked policy for reviewing and evaluating coaches has stirred up the sports community about as much as Tom Orlich did nearly a decade ago when he resigned, rescinded his resignation and then was forced out after serving as boys’ basketball coach for 25 years.

Besides losing Allister and Tillson to the new coaching policy, football coach Chris Morgan has left “his dream job” to accept the same position at Pacific Grove High near Monterey, Calif. What made the South Tahoe High alum want to leave his dream job after only two years as head coach?

“He got lured to a beautiful new stadium and there’s a lot more participation,” said Lake Tahoe Unified School District Superintendent James Tarwater.

Tarwater isn’t buying that this is a crisis for South Tahoe High athletics.

“First of all, I don’t think there is turmoil,” he said. “These things occur. They just happened to occur at the same time.”

Last month, the LTUSD School Board agreed on a formal policy for evaulating coaches at STHS. At the end of each season, all varsity coaches will be evaluated by their school administration and through surveys filled out by players’ parents. If the athletic administrator determines the coach is proficient, he or she can remain in their position. If they are assessed as needing improvement, the job will reopen, but the current coach can reapply.

“There are bugs as you implement anything,” Tarwater said. “The message we are sending out is if there are certain areas that are unsatisfactory, we want you to fix them, just as we do with teachers and aides, so we can be more effective.”

As in the past, the school also expects a standard of conduct from each coach. That is likely where Tillson didn’t meet the proficient standard. He has a history of being thrown out of high school games.

While Allister won back her job by being reselected as softball coach before handing in her resignation the day before the season opener, Tillson may not enjoy the same fate.

Former Whittell High School coach Don Amaral, who led the Warriors to the 2003 state title, has announced his intention of applying for the job.

“No doubt Don is a good candidate for South Tahoe baseball,” said STHS Athletic Director Don Borges. “It’s good thing, the system we have. It’s all about competition.”

Since being dismissed on June 4, Tillson hasn’t indicated if he will reapply for his job. He contends that the school didn’t offer him a chance to return, while Borges says that isn’t the case.

“During his evaluation, he was told he could reapply for his position,” Borges said.

Borges, who said the school isn’t ruling out rehiring Tillson, hopes to have a leader for the baseball program by mid-August.

“Matt has a lot of good qualities. Don’t count him out,” Borges said.

Amaral spent last season as an assistant coach at Coker College in Hartsville, S.C. After serving as Whittell’s head coach for nine seasons, Amaral missed many parts of high school baseball.

“I miss the experience … the kids, teaching, helping them out, asking them where they are going to college, and if they are a prospect, trying to find them a spot,” he said.

The former chief executive officer of five health care companies also missed being in charge.

“I’ve always been the CEO. I’m not very good being second fiddle,” Amaral said.

– Tribune Sports Editor Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or at

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