Vikings, parents try to make sense of Allister resignation
Parents and players were still looking for an explanation Friday for the resignation of South Tahoe High softball coach Joann Allister.
Allister surprisingly resigned on Thursday, only a month after being rehired by Lake Tahoe Unified School District. The fourth-year coach was required to reinterview for her position in December when the school district started a new rehiring policy.
When contacted by the Tribune on Friday afternoon, Allister said she wouldn’t elaborate on her resignation until a later date. She did say that she had a meeting with LTUSD superintendent Jim Tarwater, STHS principal Ivone Larson and Vikings’ athletic director Don Borges on Wednesday afternoon, letting them know she was considering a resignation. Allister said Tarwater urged her to remain as the team’s coach.
“He asked me to stay on and to take the night to think about it,” Allister said.
Allister turned in her resignation the next morning.
South Tahoe senior captain Brittany Barcellos said she wasn’t shocked that Allister decided to resign.
“I kind of thought it was coming. A coach can only take so much,” Barcellos said. “People have been watching her back and everything she was doing. I almost felt like people were watching for something bad to happen so they could act upon it instead of just letting it go. People were trying to make it so we couldn’t succeed under her coaching.
“We lost a great coach, a coach that could have taken us all the way. It’s a huge loss for our team, especially this late in the season.”
Barcellos said it has been difficult for the program to move forward since practice started in the gym last week.
“We resolved today as a team to let it go and move forward and try to make this a healthy and positive environment instead of the negative tone everybody has been bringing to practice,” Barcellos said. “It’s hard because there are a lot of hurt feelings over this and a lot of hearts affected.”
Players’ parents were in the dark as to why Allister resigned.
“I don’t know if something else happened. I don’t why she quit,” said Marilyn Breisacher, whose daughter is a junior outfielder on the team. “I thought things were resolved. I know my daughter was really upset, as were all the returning girls.
“I felt like Joann did a lot for my daughter and helped her step up her game. She improved dramatically under Joann.”
Lou Lane hasn’t often seen his daughter, Moriah, as visibly shaken as she was on Thursday night.
“Moriah was devastated,” Lane said. “I’ve seen her where she was hit by pitches, twisted ankles, and very rarely a tear. She was actually sobbing.”
Lane remains optimistic that the girls can still make the most of their season despite their lost offseason and preseason conditioning.
“I’m worried in the respect to what a late start the players have gotten. It takes time to gel as a team. With the adversity and everything, it really adds to the burden,” he said. “At this point, I just hope they can all get together and play hard. I expect that to happen. All these athletes have been faced with adversity before, and all we can do is hope for the best.”
South Tahoe acted swiftly to find replacements for Allister on Thursday.
“A lot of emotion is going on when you lose a good coach like that,” Borges said on Thursday evening. “We are trying to do the best that we can. Just play softball is what we’re trying to do.”
Players met new co-coach Analeise Neitling on Friday afternoon, and the team was planning a gym practice on Saturday. Neitling, who was previously going to coach the junior varsity team, and Izzy Evans are going to co-manage the team. Evans is a former head softball coach at Whittell and was beginning her second season as an assistant for Allister.
“She went over her philosophy and what she expected out of us,” Barcellos said. “We started out fresh and started like it was a brand-new program.”
Borges canceled the team’s five-game participation in this weekend’s Yerington tournament. The Vikings are now scheduled to open their season Thursday at the Carson Senators.
“Next week, we’ll try and see where we are as a team. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t have gotten a practice tournament in,” Barcellos said. “It’s hard to form a team, respect and teamwork in one week, but if we don’t have any of that, we can’t perform.
“If we are all playing for the love of the game, next week we won’t have too much of a problem.”