It was an emotional board meeting on Thursday as criticisms were levied against a longtime coach and the Cody School Board.
The board opted to add a public comment portion to a special meeting called to properly ratify the contract of Superintendent Peg Monteith and present information on a virtual teaching program.
A preamble by board chair Brandi Nelson suggested it was an opportunity to let people speak on the tennis coaching situation that generated a petition with over 600 signatures.
The comments started with three people calling in, speaking against the rehiring of Norm Sedig as head coach of the Cody High School tennis team, a position he held for the previous 35 years.
Donnie Champlin, a parent of a tennis player, said the decision not to renew Sedig’s contract was the result of complaints from multiple people that extended back “a decade or more.”
Amy Law, a former assistant coach, said she resigned from her coaching position in 2018, believing Sedig unfit to be a tennis coach. Law said that she had never seen Sedig play tennis in her time as a coach.
“Mr. Sedig has great gifts, but it’s time for him to retire,” she said.
Current players and parents, 14 in total, refuted points made by the three speaking against Sedig, including the claim that many parents were contacted. Several people said they had never received any questions from the school about Sedig.
Those who spoke in support of Sedig also raised questions about the process, saying activities director Tony Hult had been overruled and the usual process of hiring coaches had been upended.
The main question each parent asked concerned the investigation into Sedig, how it was conducted, who was consulted, and if Sedig were allowed to come before the board and face the accusations that had been made against him.
Due to policy regarding public comment periods in meetings, the Board was not able to address any of the questions posed during the allotted three minutes of speaking time each person was granted.
Current and former players of Sedig’s also spoke at the meeting. They said their voices were not heard in the decision-making process and spoke strongly in support of their former coach.
“I’ve known Sea Dog (Sedig’s nickname) basically my whole life,” said CHS senior Neil Markert. “He basically raised me, and I think he did a pretty good job because I’m not in jail right now.”
CHS senior Soffy Anderson made a comparison between Sedig and Richard Williams, the father and coach of two of the most successful tennis players to ever play the game, Venus and Serena Williams. Richard Williams had never played tennis before either.
Senior Tashi Mathuin made her feelings known about the students not being consulted.
“I’m aware that it is not the tradition to allow student input in these situations,” she said. “But as students, we’re not dumb or oblivious. And we know possibly the most about the events in question as we are the ones who experienced them.”
When they reached the period of the meeting where they could discuss Sedig, trustee Stefanie Bell read a prepared statement.
“During this painful process, the documents (Sedig) shared with the board seek to domineer,” she said. “These communications cause me concern.”
Bell then quoted letters sent by Sedig, in which he said he would not “go away quietly” if the board did not bring him back for a final year and quoted Sedig calling out his own selfish reasons for wanting the position again, which included an opportunity to be named National Coach of the Year and a sort of send-off tour at away matches.
“The request is to give him one more year – a legacy, his legacy,” Bell said of the petition. “This is about kids, students, and a coaching staff that keeps students as their focus.”
The board voted unanimously to deny Sedig’s petition.
Sedig did not speak during the public comment period.
When asked how he felt about the decision, he said, “Sad, I guess. I thought the board would correct a wrong with a right.”
After the meeting a group of students, including Mathuin, Anderson, Markert, and fellow seniors Nathalia Morales and Sarah André, remained outside the doors to wait for board members to emerge, holding picket signs with messages in support of Sedig.
As Nelson and board vice-chair Jennifer Rosencranse exited the building, the students started chanting, “One-two-three-four, we don’t have a voice no more,” while waving their signs.
Other students had strong opinions about the decision as well.
“It just kind of sucks to have a school board run and have them say that they’re going to be there for the students’ voice, and then not have them listen to a single student,” said Morales. “There wasn’t a single student who spoke against Sedig.”
Morales has been around Sedig for years, with her sisters having played for him in the past.
“I feel like my dad left me and he didn’t have a choice to go,” she said. “So I feel abandoned.”