A group of Centralia High School baseball players arrived at the school district’s monthly Board of Directors meeting Wednesday night to ask for the removal of head baseball coach Jon Rooklidge.

    The players — over a dozen in all — attended the meeting prepared to turn in their uniforms, and made an impromptu presentation to the board before meeting with Centralia High School athletic director Josh Lowe in a separate room.

    The board did not take any action on the matter, though Centralia School District Superintendent Steve Bodnar said the involved parties are working together to resolve the matter.

    “Our head baseball coach, for the remainder of the season, is Jon Rooklidge,” Bodnar said after the meeting. “There was an awareness by the board, and our high school principal, athletic director, superintendent and assistant superintendent were all aware of the issues. We will be working on a plan together with the parents, the student-athletes, and with the coach.”

    The assembled players — with a group of around a dozen parents waiting for them outside the district office — said that if no changes are made by Friday, they plan to turn in their uniforms and quit the team.

    Jaeger Evinger, a senior, spoke to the board on behalf of the gathered players, covering what the players see as disrespectful behavior on the part of their coach.

    The players took issue with what they referred to as negativity, intimidation and a lack of positive support on Rooklidge’s part.

    “People don’t know what happens in practice,” senior Cole Housden said. “We’re the ones that go through and have to deal with it. No one else does.”

    During the meeting with Lowe, the players said they were informed that the rest of the coaching staff had agreed to step down if, for whatever reason, Rooklidge was no longer the head coach. The players said they informed Lowe of the plan to quit on Friday if no changes are made.

    “Either jerseys on the floor, or something big happens,” Housden said. “That’s sad. I love this team. I’d die on this field.”

    The players, speaking as a team, added that the assistant coaches have all been great to work with, and that they respect Rooklidge off the field.

    “I don’t think any of us have a problem with Mr. Rooklidge outside of baseball,” Housden added.

    Rooklidge declined to comment specifically on the matter.

    “We’re here to have the best season we can have,” Rooklidge said. “It’s a game for kids. We’re here for the kids, and we support them.”

    Not all of the team’s players were present for the board meeting, Bodnar confirmed. About 13 players were present, while 20 are listed on the Tigers’ varsity roster. Senior pitcher Karson Hysong was the lone member of the team to officially turn in his uniform and leave the team.

    “We’re working to problem-solve, and clearly the parents and students, their voices were heard tonight,” Bodnar said. “We’re putting together the information, and we’ll be meeting, even tomorrow, to develop a plan for problem-solving.”

    Bodnar said that, ideally, this type of problem should be worked out before or after the season.

    “Our goal is not to have a disruption in the season,” he said. “Because of the circumstances, we’re going to try to problem-solve and do what we need to before the end of the season.”

    Centralia went 15-8 last season and made the 16-team regional round of the State 1A tournament in four of the last five seasons. Centralia, after a 3-2 win over Tumwater Wednesday night, has an 8-4 record and is in second place in the Evergreen 2A Conference standings. The current Tiger team features a core of players from teams that made the 15-year-old Babe Ruth World Series in 2009 and 2011.

    “(Our record) has been good, but it hasn’t been because of the high school program,” Housden said.

    “He didn’t make us what we are,” pitcher Brandon Conradi said. “That was other people.”

    The Tigers are slated to host Capital in a nonleague game today, at 4:30 p.m., at Ed Wheeler Field — and the intact roster, for the time being, plans on playing.

    “You’re going to see the same Centralia baseball you’ve seen this 8-4 season,” Housden said.

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(9) comments

Cruickshank

These same problems along with additional problems were presented to The school board, Steve Bodnar and the Athletic director in past years by myself and other parents and our concerns were listen to and ignored. According to a person on the committee that hired Jon Rooklidge, he was the number 3 baseball candidate and was hired over the first two because the school wanted a teacher. Also long time coach Tim Gilmore wasn't asked be on the selection committee which is ridiculous. It's clearly time for the district to stop circling their wagons around their own and start doing what is best for the program. These kids don't lie and we should be proud of them.

tomv1963

i have always told my kids that once you start something you must finish it. no quitting! play because you enjoy the game you are playing.if these kids pull this stunt and quit they will forever be known as 'quitters'. they are high school kids. sounds like the majority of them played for this coach last season,what has changed?do any of them think the college coaches won't be looking at this? quit on your high school coach means there is a very good chance they will quit on the college coach as well.suck it up seniors!

tomv1963

why did the boys wait till now?

Baseball Stadium

Boys have been complaining to parents all year, but parents were told not to approach coach. We finally had enough and went to athletic director, then boys also met with athletic director. Parents made the choice to stand behind the boys when they said they wanted to present this to the school board because they felt nothing would be done by the athletic director as in past years.

After their presentation to the school board the boys heard others who supported the coach basically call the boys liars in what they were saying. The boys were upset by this an thus pulled off their uniforms outside the district office ready to resign.

Parents talked to the boys about what they are doing and to reconsider their actions about resigning.

In a meeting today the comment was made that the coach had felt this comming on 6 months ago. If so then why did the coach not step in himself and do some corrective action on his own.

Obviously there was a problem or the outcome would not have been for the coach to resign. The school board could have done retraining with the coach on communication but I guess their was a bigger issue than communication.

Never did parents or players ask for the coaches resignation, we did ask the school board to hear our concerns and to do the right thing.

Obviously from todays outcome the school board recognized what the boys were saying and took action.

I applaud all of these boys for their courage.

It takes a MAN to do what they did!

DaSpoiler

Finally it comes to light and we have young men that have the courage to stand up and fight for what they believe and feel. Been a long time coming with this program unfortunately. My own son made the decision to not continue with this baseball program because of this type of situation when he was a team member in the past.

mckinney25

It's too bad this talented group of players have had so much turmoil over the years. I cannot help but think back on how the previous generation of coaches handled players complaining of hurt feelings. Coach Rooklidge and the coaching staff have done a great job with Tiger Baseball for 10+ years. Greg McKinney- Centralia

Baseball Stadium

It's not about hurt feelings, it is about respect and communications between the head coach and the players.

No matter how many games you win, the team is not a winning team if they can not communicate and be a TEAM!!

The statements that the paper published from these boys was not completly accurate, and it is causing this whole thing to getting blown way out of proportion.

I personally know both of these boys and they are great kids!

Baseball Stadium

Even the heading of the article is not accurate.

It was not a Mutiny Plea and the board did not Balk at the Baseball Team.

The board showed respect and acknowledged the situation.

napavinecity

Congrats to Coach Rooklidge, Evergreen Conference Coach of the Year 2011/12!

Lionel Pinn
City of Napavine

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