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Coach wants answers

Berggren fired with little notice

Steamboat Springs High School resource teacher and varsity basketball coach Ashley Berggren was told in the past month that she wouldn't be back as a coach or teacher. Berggren, who was a probationary employee, said her termination came without warning or explanation.
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— Ashley Berggren isn’t happy with how her brief tenure with the Steamboat Springs School District ended.

Steamboat Springs High School Principal Mike Knezevich said he couldn’t comment about specific personnel matters but that district policies were followed.

Berggren, who was a resource teacher and varsity girls basketball coach at Steamboat Springs High School for the past two years, said she was informed July 24 that her contracts with the district were not being renewed. She said she was given no reason for the decision. Then, on Aug. 10, Berggren learned she also would not be coaching the basketball squad.



“The whole lack of communication as to why my contracts have not been renewed speaks volumes of how this administration treats their employees,” Berggren said.

Because Berggren was a probationary teacher, she had only one-year contracts as a teacher and a coach. Berggren isn’t a certified teacher and is only a few credits from getting her master’s degree in Special Education.



On June 13, Berggren had an interview with Knezevich, and she said all indications were that she would be coming back. On July 24, she found out her teaching contract wouldn’t be renewed.

“I was given no opportunity to look for a new job,” she said. “I felt for someone’s personal well-being, I was mistreated.”

Berggren continued to work with the girls basketball team throughout the summer, including taking 30 players to a camp at the University of Colorado. Then, on Aug. 10, she found out she wouldn’t be back as coach, either.

The decision left her former players in limbo.

“I was really upset,” senior Erin Gleason said. “I knew everyone on the team would be. She put her whole life into this.”

Berggren said she hasn’t been given a reason why neither of her contracts were renewed.

“I am really disappointed because I am no longer going to be working with students,” she said. “That hurts the most. These kids are great and I love this community.”

Knezevich said all coaching contracts are for one year, and each coach is reviewed at the end of the year. After the review, coaches either are offered another year or dismissed, he said.

Berggren’s two-year record of 19-29 had nothing to do with her contract not being renewed, Knezevich said.

“We don’t hire and fire coaches on wins and losses,” he said. “There is an evaluation process that is used. We always look at a number of factors.”

The process for looking for another coach is already under way, Knezevich said. He hopes to have a person in as soon as possible, but said he wants to make the right hire.

“As with anything we have very, very high standards as far as hiring,” he said. “We’re not going to lower those standards to get a warm body in:The girls and parents will be involved in that hiring. They have a big say in this.”

Berggren said she isn’t sure what she will do now, but she knows it will involve children. She said she might go to Europe and try to play professional basketball again or try to find another job teaching.

She also may try to become a graduate assistant at the University of Colorado. The Buffs head coach, Kathy McConnell-Miller, was an assistant coach at Illinois when Berggren played there.

Still, she said her ties with the school district and basketball team will be tough to leave behind.

“I’ve been committed to this community,” she said. “I started making this a home. The late notice and lack of communication just really puts me in a awkward position.”


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