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Posted on Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 5:56 a.m.

Ann Arbor Public Schools explores coach professional development after football brawl

By Danielle Arndt

District officials at Ann Arbor Public Schools have started to explore options for coach professional development through the Michigan High School Athletic Association in the wake of an on-field football brawl between Huron and Pioneer.


Ann Arbor Public Schools high school athletic directors, John Young, right, from Skyline; Dottie Davis, center, from Huron; and Eve Claar, left, from Pioneer, answer questions about the football brawl at the Nov. 14 school board meeting.

Danielle Arndt |

The MHSAA’s Coaches Advancement Program (CAP) was among a list of steps for moving forward that Huron Athletic Director Dottie Davis compiled just five days after the Oct. 12 fight involving coaches and players.

CAP is an in-service coaches training program with six levels of certification. It was started in the 2007-08 school year and since its launch, nearly 12,000 coaches have completed at least one level of the program, said MHSAA Assistant Director Kathy Westdorp.

“The program deals with all of the things outside of the Xs and Os,” said MHSAA spokesman John Johnson. “Sportsmanship, liability, how to run a good practice — we get into a lot of good advice.”

Coaching philosophies, state regulations, effective instruction, sports medicine and First-Aid all are covered in the first session, Westdorp said. The sessions typically last seven hours, with six hours of training.

Westdorp said the MHSAA has been in discussions with Ann Arbor school officials about CAP, as well as about the district’s plan for restoring and improving the schools’ athletic programs post-brawl. She said there have been talks about hosting a CAP session in the Ann Arbor area.

CAP often is conducted in conjunction with an event, such as the Michigan Inter-scholatic Athletic Administrators Association Conference, which will be held in March in Traverse City, Johnson said. He added the MHSAA also receives calls from districts throughout the state about traveling to their schools to host the staff trainings.

District spokeswoman Liz Margolis said Ann Arbor’s athletic directors are looking into this possibility and “pricing it out.”

“Many of our coaches go through this program already,” Margolis said. Exactly how many was not available.

“Generally, our head varsity coaches are the ones who’ve done it. But we’d like to be able to expand this … and enroll coaches at the JV and freshman level and have assistant coaches go through the program as well.”

However, Davis’ response to the official referee report from the Oct. 12 game shows that Huron coach Cory Gildersleeve was not CAP certified. Information on whether Pioneer coach Paul Test received any CAP training was not immediately available.

Johnson said each CAP session costs $60 per coach, so for the full 36-hour program it would cost $360 per coach.

Margolis said the district is looking at a target timeframe of early 2013-14 for expanding the district’s CAP offerings.

Margolis said other than this professional development, the district is not doing anything different. The athletic directors still are conducting their pre-season coaches meetings, however, etiquette that previously was relayed as a reminder is being stressed more heavily, she said.

“We’re reiterating expectations. Obviously, this is acutely on everyone’s plate,” she said, adding there is a heightened awareness to the rules and regulations.

Margolis described the on-field brawl as somewhat of an anomaly.

“We haven’t had those kind of issues before and that doesn’t mean we won’t ever again see something like that, but we’re using this opportunity to make sure everyone knows what the expectations are again and this will be ongoing and continuing hopefully through additional professional development.”

Along with coaches participating in CAP, also on Davis’ list for moving forward was:

  • Meeting with the entire football program to review the situation
  • Letters of apology from the coaches to their team members and parents
  • Joint coaches and captains meetings with both schools
  • Joint community service projects (Salvation Army, Alpha House, etc.)
  • Joint cleanups on each school's property
  • Captains message to
  • Sportsmanship summits

Items one through five have been completed. Margolis said the captains still are drafting and considering a possible letter to the community via Sportsmanship summits, which are for students, also are conducted through the MHSAA. Margolis said the athletic directors are thinking about this for the next school year as well.

Johnson said often team captains are sent to the annual Sportsmanship Summit. However, sometimes underclassmen attend to build a legacy of leadership on a team.

"The kids can come in and get the kind of training that they can take back out to their schools ... to help get out the word," he said. "Depending on the timing, some sports may send kids who are juniors ... and who can carry the message forward into the program."

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


Seasoned Cit

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 4:35 p.m.

No... don't we need to hire some consultant for about $50K to study the situation ? From looking at the Athletic Directors in the photo they don't look diverse enough either.I'll bet the MEA has some suggestions that will help as well, but before any thing is done we should have at least 3 public meetings to discuss the situation and get parent input. (oh yes .. one of the public meetings should be held in late morning so that anyone working evenings or nights could still attend. Let's do it the Ann Arbor way.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 8:50 a.m.

So Ann Arbor administrators have managed to make "intolerable" behavior tolerable" by "educating" the violators at additional expense to taxpayers? Here's a thought, maybe your "vetting" process is inadequate in the "hiring" process. It sounds like there were hiring mistakes my suggestion is to correct your hiring mistakes but that is probably "impossible" to accomplish without fighting the ever powerful union. So we mask the issue, throw more money at it, and wait for it to happen again. If these were just regular students they would have been expelled and hate crime charges brought against them but then that "student union" isn't quite as powerful or adequately financed.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:30 a.m.

Put the DDA in charge of football. Everything they touch turns to gold. They've done wonders for parking--imagine what they could do for sportsmanship! Of course, that $360 the MHSAA charges would cost $3600 from the DDA, but it would be worth it!


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

PLease remember a couple of things: 1) CAP training alone is not going to change an isolated event as happened in this football game. I have been coaching for 25 years and have no CAP training and we never have incidents like this, which leads me to; 2) This should not be the way Ann Arbor high school athletics are viewed. For the overwhelming majority of our teams and events, I would put up our ethics, integrity and sportsmanship with the very best in the state. This was one incident in which both adults and kids acted in an grossly inappropriate fashion--period. We have great kids and caring coaches in this district and I hope the public will give us another chance this winter!

Basic Bob

Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 8:01 p.m.

And I would add that most of the people present did not behave inappropriately. Sometimes it is appropriate to suspend a coach for the actions of his team or the team's supporters, even though the coach did nothing at all.


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

This exemplifies the biggest problem in the Public School system today - bureaucratic administrators with nothing better to do than micromanage the system with unnecessary rules, instruction, and touchy-feely counseling - at higher outsourcing cost. This is high school sports - not the NFL. If the people the administrators hire are substandard then fire them. Make the Unions set the public "standard". Fire the administrators who helped get the clowns hired or oversaw them to begin with. TThere are a lot of good people who can and should get those jobs. Not only will the AAPS save $360 per coach, they will reset the over-inflated salary of those administrators also invited to "take a hike".


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.

Yes, they nailed it! The lack of CAP training for all coach related personnel is why the fight broke out.


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

I think we are taught in *kindergarten* (and even before that) to "use our words instead of our fists" to settle disputes. How hard a concept is it if we expect a 5 year old to grasp it???


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

There is no clearer, surer feedback than firing an employee who has fouled up big time. And this "development" would be free!

Ron Granger

Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.

Given the significant discrepencies in Dottie Davis' account of what happened vs. numerous other witnesses, one wonders what sort of program she should be enrolled in. Some sort of ethics program, perhaps?


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

What makes any other witnesses account more valid than another? You would have to take every participant's account into consideration to get a sense of what really happened, and even then it would not be completely accurate. Every person there would have a different perspective on what happened and what they saw. To imply that she was intentionally unethical due to these "significant discrepancies" is laughable.


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

Typical and predictable. When one nitwit does something stupid you need to "train" them all since they are all the same, right? Might as well toss in sensitivity training too.


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.

How about do the right thing and set the example for your players. I don't need a certification to know that. Or better yet, for the money it costs to send them to the "training" I will do it for 1/2 the price.

Coach Yunke

Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 1:03 p.m.

I have completed 3 levels of CAP training and highly recommend CAP to all levels of coaching. In 20 years of sports coaching I have seen too many knucklehead coaches on the sidelines. I used to be one of them. I get better results from my teams since keeping coaching in perspective.


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 11:42 a.m.

Professional development will be good, but also one needs to keep an eye on the referees of all games. If there are infractions going on, the referees need to be making those calls and if there is totally inappropriate activities going on coaches or players, they should be expelled from the game.