OC Girls Basketball Team Ask BOE Not to Renew Coaches’ Contracts
12 members of the Ocean City High School Girls Basketball team appeared at a meeting of the Ocean City Board of Education on Wednesday, Feb. 23 to ask that the contracts of their head coach and assistant coach not be renewed next season.
According to the Ocean City Sentinel, the players are unhappy with what they feel is verbally abusive and demeaning conduct by first-year head coach Michael Cappelletti and assistant coach Tim Kelley.
The members of the girls' team say they have brought their criticisms about the coaches to Ocean City High Athletic Director Geoff Haines and he told them that their complaints did not amount to "criminal behavior" and there was nothing he could do about the situation unless the coaches had physically abused them.
At the meeting with the Board of Education, a team member read a letter written by the players that gave examples of the coaches being verbally abusive and bullying.
Players also said Coach Cappelletti gives his daughter, who is a member of the team, preferential treatment.
“The majority of coach Cappelletti’s poor behavior comes from the fact he is a parent coach. He is gaining personal privileges and advantages by making everything on this team revolve around his daughter. This has created an incredibly toxic team environment.”
Cappelletti became the head coach this season following longtime coach Paul Baruffi’s retirement. He had been Baruffi’s assistant coach for the last 14 years.
The parents of two of the players also spoke and gave similar views on the coach's conduct and asked the BOE to act on replacing them.
The Ocean City Sentinel says that coach Cappelletti's wife, Jeannie, then spoke at the meeting, defending her husband and pointing to his commitment to coaching at Ocean City High School over the years and insisting he always keeps the best interests of all his players in mind.
Members of the school board said they would take the input from the meeting and discuss the situation privately and try to reach a decision on the future of these coaches at Ocean City High School.
The Sentinel mentions that several members of the BOE commended the players for being brave enough to come before the board with their grievances.
I am also impressed with the resolve it must have taken for the players to come forward as they did.
My daughters are members of the Atlantic City Girls Basketball team and the idea of them having to appear publically to recount criticisms of the team's coaches is almost unimaginable. Luckily, such a scenario isn't the case on the Atlantic City girls' team.
The Ocean City team's season isn't even complete. The Ocean City Girls have a state playoff game later this week.
Think of how awkward it will be for the Ocean City players and the coaches as they practice for and play in that game after what was said at the school board meeting.
If the Ocean City BOE doesn't take some measures to address the players' concerns, those players will face the decision of playing with the coaches again next season or quitting the team.