Curtis Stapleton (Photo courtesy: Dothan Eagle)
News-4 has learned that Carroll Eagles' Girls Basketball Coach Curtis Stapleton has been fired from his coaching duties.
Carroll is coming off two of the most successful seasons the girls' team has ever had. Stapleton led the eagles to the south regional. LeFlore ended the Eagles season.
Carroll won the Class 5A, Area 3 title this year and finished the season at 20-10. This was on the heals of a 26-4 campaign last season.
Stapleton coached the Lady Eagles for three seasons.
News-4 talked to Stapleton today. He says the firing stems from disagreements he had with school officials about the direction of the football program. Stapleton was also a football assistant coach.
Stapleton told me quote, "I feel for the kids more than myself. I know I can be tough, but I love them. I've always wanted to make a positive difference in their lives."
Stapleton will stay on as a teacher at the school.
Our calls to the Carroll athletic director and to the Ozark school superintendent were not returned.
The entire Carroll Girl’s Basketball Team is signing a petition to get Stapleton his coaching job back. Below is a copy of the letter the team sent to Ozark Schools' Superintendent Michael Lenhart.
February 25, 2010
Dear Mr. Lenhart,
We the Lady Eagles Basketball Team are highly concerned with your decision of discharging Coach Stapleton’s coaching jobs. We were informed of your three reasons and to us and they seem unethical and are unfair to the team. We feel as if it was a very selfish decision and no one had taken any sympathy of our thoughts or the aftermath of our team. So in result we have prepared this letter regarding Coach Stapleton’s discharge and our argument of why we need our coach back.
You say that Coach Stapleton is not a fine role model for female athletes, but have you have questioned us of our opinion of our coach’s affection and discipline toward us? Quite frankly Mr. Lenhart we don’t see what you see when you stated that statement. For the past two years our coach has brought us through winning seasons and broke barriers at Carroll High School. Without Coach Stapleton we probably would have never made history in the city of Ozark of being as successful as we have come. To us he is the perfect role model to female athletes. Not only is a perfect role model but he’s also a great father figure. To some of us that don’t have a father in the home Coach Stapleton really filled that position with his wisdom and his compassion towards every single player, Junior Varsity or Varsity. We oppose your faulty statement addressed as one of Coach Stapleton’s allegations.
We have also noticed that one of your other allegations relating to the incident with of our ex – head football coach, Mr. Robert Johnson, resigning from Carroll High. We’ve read Coach Stapleton’s editorial in The Southern Star. To us Coach Stapleton was just exercising his first amendment right stating, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof for abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or the right of the people, peaceably to assemble into petition the government for a readdress of grievances. Clearly he was expounding what he felt about Coach Johnson toward his dedication to the football. Some of the Ozarkians in our community have shared the same feelings as Coach Stapleton about the progress and the program being led by Coach Johnson. He felt like Coach Johnson was not being fair to the boys by showing discipline and not winning in the sense of losing. Even through our losing Coach Stapleton not only gave us encouraging words and motivational speeches, but showed discipline and tough love.
One point you made in the discharge letter to Coach Stapleton about disturbance in the city with his editorial page was quite true, but if no one ever made a stand we probably wouldn’t be advancing to making progress. As I stated before Coach Stapleton was not the only person who felt as if Coach Johnson was not the right coach eligible for the job, not to say he didn’t have the credentials but just didn’t do right by the boys. We make it look as if Coach Stapleton was slandering Coach Johnson and wanted him gone for Coach Stapleton to intercede as the head coach. Which is not true, but Coach Stapleton wanted to see a change in the program.
Mr. Lenhart we respect your decision, but wished you could have taken his teams in consideration about how we feel if we lost our coach. You have left an ugly obscene predicament whether we would like to continue to participate in the program without our coach, who I would like to mention he was awarded “Coach of the Year” by the AHSAA. It would not be right or feel right to move on without him. I do hope that you take this letter in DEEP consideration, not just for our sake but to move on with a successful winning program at Carroll High School.
Lady Eagles Basketball Team