Dear Principal Yantzer, Athletic Director Emerald Murphy, Superintendant Bruce Messinger, and you, the reader,
It is with dismay and outrage that we have learned of the strange way Aaron Jones has been summarily dismissed as head football coach for Nederland High. Aaron has been a terrific and dedicated coach for Ned for over 15 years. He has taught at Nederland for years and knows generations of families. Mr. Jones is and has been a stalwart champion of Nederland athletics and athletes for years. He has shown great empathy and support for his athletes, both in and out of school. Mr. Jones has been a great role model for the team when they needed to pick themselves up after some large losses and still feel valued and encouraged to go on to the next challenge. Mr. Jones always found positive things to say to the boys to keep them moving forward and working hard to do their best. This includes, and maybe even more importantly, students who were on the edge. Kids have stayed in school to be able to play football for Aaron at Ned High.
At the end of the year seniors acknowledge parents and teachers who have impacted them the most at something called the “White Rose Ceremony”. Inevitably Aaron and fellow coach Jacob Metzger get most of the senior boys’ roses. When Miles Pancoast was injured in the truck roll over, Aaron handled this whole event with class and his typical passion for his students by almost living at the hospital. He honored Miles and his family in many ways. After Miles recovered he brought Miles to the sidelines and made sure he was part of the team. It was through Aaron that Fairview started doing their August practices at Ned High. After the accident, these players joined in the community outpouring of empathy for Miles and his family. Aaron turned this event into a positive event, rather than what it could have been, a collective depression. It was very moving.
Mr. Jones is a member of the Nederland community and brings with him a long-term commitment to community building that others from the “flat Lands” may not appreciate or replicate. Mr. Jones is very invested in the health and vitality of the greater Nederland community. Aaron is President of the Nederland Youth Hockey Assn. and has coached and taught young Ned skaters for many years. Aaron has children growing up in this community, and has demonstrated a desire to pay it forward for this whole community, as well as for Nederland High football.
A community group would now like to pay it back to Aaron Jones. We are aghast about how the firing was handled. First, to be told that he would no longer be head coach the week before Christmas is heartless and unusually cruel. This is a man with incredible passion and dedication to the sport and to his students as football coach and teacher. Then to be told that there was nothing Aaron could do about it. This is to an individual who has taught and coached at Ned High for so many years. His wife, Danielle Petrovick, is also a very respected teacher at Ned High and both are part of the solid staff of which Ned High can boast. This community group would like to know what was so egregious an infraction that Aaron Jones would be dismissed so summarily? The lack of transparency in this whole event is very troubling.
The person at the head of this and other apparently dubious decisions involving Ned High coaching staff is athletic director, Emerald Murphy. Apparently Ms. Murphy appears to have set herself up as “judge, jury and executioner”. There does not appear to be any due process and this is unacceptable.
This community group feels that Ms. Murphy must make an accounting of what appears to be an arbitrary and capricious banishment of someone whom we consider a pillar of our community.
Through her act, the community runs the risk of not only crippling the football program for years to come, but also losing two very strong teachers in our Ned High faculty.
We question whether Ms. Murphy truly understands the Nederland community after working in her current position for only ~1 and half years, as she has not moved to the mountains, nor has she known the long term struggles of acquiring and maintaining quality, consistent teachers, coaches, and staff in a small mountain school. There are other examples of Ms. Murphy’s handling, or possible mishandling, of personnel including but not limited to the release of Dave Femmer as the Nordic cross country and track coach, the unbending and unending manner she treated a struggling Nederland student’s suspension, the inhibiting of asst. coaches for volleyball and basketball, the sending of the football team to an overnight away game in a dodgy bus while she road to the game in a rental car, and now this seemingly arbitrary handling of Aaron Jones. This community group at this time would like to call for the reinstatement of Coach Jones and intends to further look into Ms. Murphy’s firing of Dave Femmer. A petition to this end is in the process of being circulated in the community and will be presented at a future time.