Can a person or persons tell how much religious devotion someone has based on watching him coach a baseball team?
Obviously, the administration at Mount Paran Christian can in the case of current baseball coach Harvey Cochran.
Numerous people connected with the baseball team have said the school is relieving Cochran of his duties as coach at the end of the season because, “He isn’t religious enough.”
If that is true, it is the latest absurd salvo in a situation that continues to spin out of control for the Kennesaw based school.
I’m not buying it for a second.
Cochran has posted a
66-42 mark since being hired in 2008. This year alone he had guided the Eagles to a 24-2 record, the first region title in program history and a No. 1 seed in the Class A playoffs, which start at home today against Wesleyan.
Does it make sense to let someone go because they aren’t religious enough after he has already worked there for four years? Wouldn’t that be something that should be determined prior to the hiring process?
They sure have determined it with new coach-in-waiting Kyle Reese. The school sent an over-the-top news release that pointed out what a fine religious person he is, but said very little as to whether he can coach baseball.
“Kyle Reese is a phenomenal combination of experience, achievement and commitment to Christian education,” Mount Paran Christian headmaster Dr. David Tilley said in the release. “Out of the many well-qualified candidates we considered to lead the baseball program, Kyle Reese’s wealth of experience, exemplary leadership in his field, Christian testimony and a commitment to the building of community will make him an incredible asset to our school and out athletic department. We are very blessed to have a man of Kyle’s Christ-like character leading and mentoring young men at MPCS.”
I have yet to meet Reese. I’m sure he’s a great guy, but I think he’d even admit it is a little overboard for a coach who went 23-67 his last four seasons at St. Francis.
Now, it’s true that Cochran will never be mistaken for a choirboy. He can be blunt. He can be fiery, and he can be colorful. In an interview shortly after he found out he would not be back next season, he said as much.
“I told Dr. Tilley, that I was a religious man but was not one that would be out there with it,” Cochran said.
He said at the time he was hired, Cochran even went out of his way to ask Tilley if he was sure that the longtime coach was the right person for the job. Cochran said Tilley assured him he was.
For 40 years, Cochran has done what he was put on this earth to do – coach high school baseball and teach young players life lessons they can carry into manhood – and he’s done it well. He has compiled a 677-354 record with eight region championships with Mount Paran, North Cobb and North Atlanta, in his four decades as a high school baseball coach.
We’ll probably never know the real reason why Cochran is being let go. More than a dozen phone calls and numerous emails to Tilley, principal Eric Bradley and athletic director Mitch Jordan fell on deaf ears.
I think Cochran is being let go for one of two reasons: Either the administration wants to get rid of him because he is 65 and maybe too old school for their tastes, or a booster with big pockets was unhappy because his/her son wasn’t playing as much as they liked or being used in the way they wanted.
Regardless of the real reason behind their actions, Mount Paran botched this situation from start to finish and it owes Cochran, the players on the baseball team and every other coach employed there an apology.
After developing a winning program and putting it on the long-term road to success, Cochran deserved better. By not at least addressing the reason of his departure, the administration almost implies Cochran may have done something wrong. After 40 years of good works that’s not fair to tarnish such a well-earned legacy.
The players deserve an apology because the timing of the announcements could have become a distraction that may have torpedoed the best season in program history. As it is they are still in the awkward position of having two head coaches on staff and it’s to Cochran and the rest of the coaches’ credit that they have not allowed it to become a problem – at least not yet.
And for the rest of the coaches on staff, don’t think they didn’t take notice. From now on they will all be looking over their shoulders to see who is watching them and why. They will always keep this in the back of their mind and wonder if they are going to be the next one to get a phone call if they aren’t playing the big donor’s kid, advancing in age, or heaven forbid, not leading the prayer group before and after the game.