Whittell fires state cross country championship coach
Whittell High School track and field coach Brian Rippet, who last year took his girls’ cross country team to its first state title and the boys’ team to a runner-up finish, has been removed from the position. The exact details of his dismissal remain hazy.
In November, the Whittell girls’ team won a regional championship and then went on to capture the Northern Nevada 2A State Cross Country Championship over Faith Lutheran for the first time in school history. Rippet, a popular coach with the students, also directed the boys’ team to a regional title and second-place finish in the state meet.
Whittell Principal Mario Gatto said the decision to dismiss Rippet from the head coaching position “was a decision of the administration” and not acted on by the school board.
“I can tell you that he is no longer the coach, but I can’t tell you anymore than that due to personnel issues we’re dealing with,” Gatto said, adding that the school has advertised for the positions of track and field and cross country head coach.
Rippet will continue teaching science at the high school. When contacted, he had no comment.
Sources close to the situation have suggested a few scenarios that may have led to the dismissal, including a pole vault summit during finals week that some students chose to attend after rescheduling their exams. Although not a team function, school administrators may have felt it was disruptive and blamed that on Rippet. However, no one can verify exactly what led to the decision and it remains a mystery, including to members of the cross country team.
Senior runner Aly VanDeusen said members of the team had been informed early last week by Rippet that he had been relieved of his coaching duties, though they have not received any information from the school administration regarding the firing.
“We don’t know everything because some of it is confidential,” VanDeusen said. “It’s very hush-hush right now.”
VanDeusen’s mom, Rhonda, called Rippet “the best, in and out of the classroom.”
“As a parent, I just thought he was excellent,” she said. “I think (the athletes) are very disappointed, and the parents, too.”
Rippet’s attention to every team member hasn’t been lost on the athletes who have been coached by him.
“Mr. Rippet cared about every single person on the team, and there were no benchwarmers,” Aly VanDeusen said. “He was not only open to students for running issues, but any issue. He has been a mentor to every team he’s coached, and he makes running fun, which is not easy to do. Our hearts are broken that the administration would take away one of the most positive aspects at Whittell.”
Senior Kim McGlothlin, who has also participated in volleyball, swimming and skiing at Whittell, said, “It’s not just that (the finals). He was the best coach I’ve ever had. It’s really, really sad to see what’s happening to him. Everyone cares about him because he put in so much effort for us.”
McGlothlin said school administrators have not said anything to members of the cross country team about what happened. Her dad, Rick, said Rippet was known for helping kids whenever he could.
“He’s really gone over and beyond his call of duty,” Rick McGlothlin said. “I think he’s taken money out of his pocket on more than one occasion. I know personally that he’ll stop at a restaurant and if the kids don’t have money, he buys it out of his own pocket. He’s a great guy and the kids really love him. We totally support him.”
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