A complaint filed against Dukes softball coach Duane Sunagel is being investigated by the Wellington board of education.
Parents of softball players, during a March 21 meeting, alluded to a grievance involving both “tough” coaching methods and two seniors who were cut from the team.
“What did the man do?” asked Bill Denny. “I think we have the right to know if we’re going to release him. This can be handled another way and I respect the guy. Coaching is hard, and we hired him to coach. He’s done it very well in the couple years he’s been here. I can see he’s tough, but isn’t that what coaches do?”
“My daughter is a four-year letter-winner and graduated last year,” said Shannon Tandarich. “She played two years under Tim Wulfhoop and two under Duane Sunagel. She’s also played multiple years of travel ball, and calls coach Sunagel the best coach she’s ever had. He has pushed her to be a better player, a better person, and a better student. She is now playing Division II softball and representing Wellington.”
“I’m a coach,” she added. “Coaching isn’t easy and you’ve got to make tough decisions. Not everyone is going to like you for them. If you want to win, you’re going to put the best nine girls out there. That can mean nine freshman, nine seniors, or whatever. The best nine have to be out there if you want to compete with a school like Keystone.”
“I’ve talked with several of the girls, and they don’t have a problem with the coach,” said Carrie Diermyer. “My daughter said she’s learned more from him than any coach, ever. I feel like most of the people here. Let the coach coach and let the parents parent.”
Board president Sally Steward said it was the first she had heard of the situation.
Students and parents involved in the situation were also in attendance but did not speak publicly or identify themselves. At 8 p.m., they went behind closed doors with the board along with legal counsel and high school principal Tina Drake.
The board did not return from the private session until 11:20 p.m.
Neither superintendent Ed Weber or board members confirmed or denied the accuracy of what was said publicly. Weber said no parties involved have decided to make the situation a legal matter.
“It’s still an investigation and we’re still collecting evidence,” he said. “It’s not appropriate for me to comment if the investigation is ongoing. The attorney was here tonight to discuss another matter. Personnel matters are a tough issue, and I’m not sure what I should say at this point. “
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.