Jill Brumbaugh said she isn't a quitter and doesn't want to set a bad example for her players, so she intends to reapply for the Claysburg-Kimmel High School girls coaching job after the district last week opened the position she's held the past two seasons.
"It's my team. I've put a lot of hard work into it. Why wouldn't I apply? We were successful,'' Brumbaugh said.
A star player at Claysburg in the 1980s who led the Lady Bulldogs to three Juniata Valley League titles before getting a scholarship to Connecticut, Brumbaugh has posted a 26-20 overall record, including a 22-10 mark in the Inter-County Conference North. The team went to the District 6 playoffs both seasons.
Brumbaugh, though, was notified via email from principal Mark Mitchell on Thursday that the school was opening all the girls basketball positions - including Samantha Reimer's as varsity assistant and junior high coach and Lisa Iachini's junior high assistant post. Mitchell's email told Brumbaugh she was "welcome to reapply.''
According to the email, C-K administrators "made numerous unsuccessful attempts'' to meet with Brumbaugh for her postseason evaluation and discuss the future of the program. Brumbaugh, a resident of Florida who returns to Pennsylvania from June to March to coach, said she rescheduled two meetings and tried to reschedule a third but was assured that wouldn't impact her future coaching the Lady Bulldogs. Since the job was opened, Brumbaugh said she's tried to contact Mitchell and superintendent Royce Boyd about the reasons for the move but, as of early Monday evening, had yet to hear back.
Mitchell and athletic director Jeff Lingenfelter declined comment on the specifics for the opening of the job.
"We're still in the process of discussing this,'' Mitchell said. "We'd rather wait to comment until we've talked about this more.''
According to athletic committee chairman Denny Cowher, there still is much that needs to be ironed out.
"Based on what I was told, I was in favor [of opening the job at the time of the vote]. When you talk to Jill, though, there are some discrepancies,'' Cowher said. "Each individual on the board has to do some fact finding.''
Cowher would not discuss specifics because the talks were done in executive session. However, Cowher did say, as is typical, the C-K administration makes the recommendation as to whether to retain coaches or open their positions. The school board then votes on the recommendation.
Although Brumbaugh hasn't been told the reason they opened the post, her second season did included a number of rough spots, and she said she'd heard rumors that she might not be retained. She said she was verbally assaulted by the parent of a player over the phone after a December game, an incident she reported to the school administration she said was not acted upon.
A few weeks earlier, volunteer assistant Lacey Claar was removed from Brumbaugh's staff by the school after bringing an exotic pet - a marmoset - to a scrimmage. Brumbaugh said she offered to step down after the incident, "but they said, 'no, we want you to stay on.'
"People bring dogs to softball games, which is still school property,'' Brumbaugh said. "They said Lacey was given a formal warning, which is not true. I received a text message from the principal asking if she had it in the gym ... that's not a formal warning. I don't think it's right.''
If Brumbaugh is replaced, it will make three coaches for next year's senior class of Lady Bulldogs, which also includes Brumbaugh's niece, Kala Brumbaugh. Brumbaugh replaced Will Fitzgerald, who guided the team for a year after taking over for Tom Ritchey.
Mitchell said the school would like to have a coach in place as soon as possible and the board might talk about advertising the position at this Wednesday's meeting. Reimer, who is moving to Ohio, will not seek the job, nor will Claar, who surpassed Brumbaugh and Autumn Helsel to break the school scoring record. Former Lady Bulldog assistant coach and all-star player Ashli Weyandt has not decided whether or not to apply.
A family source also told the Mirror on Monday night that Dan Crist, who had several good seasons coaching the Lady Bulldogs, won't apply; he recently retired as the coach at Chestnut Ridge
"The reason I'm so disappointed is because it was my high school, and I was asked by some of the parents to come back,'' Brumbaugh said. "We've done a lot. It seems like we're turning the program around, and they're just dropping me. It hurts.''