MPHS Coach faces criticism following game incident on Sept. 25

Lance Maggart

A sizable crowd of parents, community members and local athletic coaches were on hand at the last East Grand School District (EGSD) Board of Education meeting on Oct. 6 to discuss EGSD Athletic Director and Middle Park High School (MPHS) Head Football Coach Adam Bright.

The discussion specifically related to an incident that occurred during a MPHS football game on Sept. 25. During the Panther’s football game on Sept 25 Coach Bright was ejected after confronting game officials for what he felt was a missed call regarding passing interference. During the exchange Bright, and the MPHS Panthers, were penalized multiple times before Bright left the field.

The crowd making comments to the Board of Education earlier this month was split fairly evenly between Bright’s detractors and defenders among adults. Two students from MPHS, football players, also briefly attended the meeting to lodge their support for Bright. Among those who spoke against Bright one parent called for his dismissal from the EGSD.

The EGSD received two letters of correspondence related to the issue, one in support of Bright and one highly critical of the administrator.

Community member and EGSD student parent Julie Martin submitted a letter to the Board supporting Coach Bright. In her letter Martin states, “I find it hard to believe that I even have to write this letter of support because I feel so strongly about the great job that Adam Bright is doing for this school and community.”

Martin goes on to discuss some brief history of the MPHS football team and how her son enjoys working with Coach Bright. “Adam is the biggest reason that Chance has aspirations of being a high school teacher, and a football coach! What higher compliment can a coach be paid” the letter states.

Martin addresses the issue from the Sept. 25 incident later in her letter stating, “I don’t believe there is a coach out there that hasn’t ‘lost their cool’ at one time or another, and Adam is no exception. While being ejected from a very heated game was probably not his proudest moment… I will ALWAYS defend a coach that is sticking up for his kids and the safety of his team.”

The letter speaking against Coach Bright was submitted by EGSD student parents Matt and Kelly Friesen. In their letter the Friesens state, “we began coming to the board expressing our concerns in the spring of 2015. Since that time his (Coach Bright) inappropriate behavior continues to escalate to the point where it can now be described as completely out of control.”

The Friesens letter goes on to make a series of allegations against Bright regarding his treatment of students at MPHS. “Over the past several months we both have been approached by numerous parents and students with additional concerns and complaints. These individuals are fearful to come forward, which supports our belief that the school district now supports a culture where bullying is perceived as accepted…Parents have expressed concerns about Mr. Bright bullying their children.”

Later in their letter the Friesens address the incident on Sept. 25 stating, “There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for that kind of behavior. This is a grown man that was hired to be a role model to our children… In any other situation in any other organization he would be terminated without question.”

Both letters submitted to the Board of Education are part of the public record.

For his part Coach Bright refused to provide the Sky Hi News with game footage from the night of the incident or a headshot for publication and provided no explanation for his refusal. Other administrators from the EGSD had not responded to requests for the footage or a headshot of Coach Bright as of press time.

Coach Bright did however respond to requests for comment, stating, “‪I crossed the line in fighting for our kids at a recent home football game, after which I have followed the protocol set forth by CHSAA and look forward to ‬coaching in our game this week as well as serving MPHS as the Athletic Director for years to come. As to other comments raised during a recent school board meeting during an open forum, on advice of counsel, I will not respond to false or misleading accusations brought about by a small minority. We can make MPHS and East Grand School District a great place, and I will continue in our efforts to do just that.”‬‬

The EGSD Board of Education took no action regarding the comments during their meeting on Oct. 6. Board Treasurer Chip Besse pointed out that any future decisions regarding Coach Bright would be made through the standard process.

“If you are for or against Mr. Bright there is a process here,” Besse said. “A process that is applicable to all employees of the School District.”

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