CHATHAM, NJ - It can't be explained as a coincidence when there are three different coaches in three years and the third one is forced out on the day of the season opener.
The 2015 season is 10 days old and a majority of Chatham softball parents are upset with how certain parents and the administration treated first-year softball coach Joelle Della Volpe. The new coach was suspended less than two hours before the first game of the season and resigned or was fired days later.
"The parents are too involved in trying to coach the team," Rob Kennedy, whose daughter, Bonnie, is an outfielder on the team. "It happened here and it happens all over. The coach is supposed to coach the team without interference from the parents.
"There was a parent meeting at the beginning of the season and (Della Volpe) told us that the players who worked the hardest were going to play."
According to one parent, it was a "witch hunt" against Della Volpe by certain parents, who were waiting for a chance to get her fired. "A couple of parents were looking and waiting to find an excuse to bring her to the administration. It was a witch hunt," said the parent who wished to remain anonymous.
Apparently, it had to do with playing time and positioning. Two talented freshmen - Camryn Davies and Chloe Blanc - were named the starters at shortstop and second base, respectively. Two seniors who played short and second last spring, were moved to different positions. That did not sit well with certain parents.
So, when Della Volpe allegedly made an "inappropriate comment," Chatham High Principal Darren Groh suspended her the afternoon of the first game. The charges against her came from a parent.
"Almost all parents support coach Joelle," Robert Landry, father of Chatham pitcher, Melissa, said. "How can you not support her enthusiasm and skill; the energy she brought to the program.'
One parent said a "reprimand' would have been a more suitable consequence.
"We're not condoning improper behavior, but before we knew anything she had been fired," Landry said. "We wrote emails and letters asking for a meeting with the administrators and we never got an answer. We know we have nothing to do with personnel decisions, but we wanted a chance to meet with them. Everyone knows who influenced this decision. How are we ever going to get a coach to come here when things like this happen?"
When Della Volpe visited the team on Saturday at the Cougar Classic, she was greeted warmly by the majority of players and parents. Her detractors ignored her.
Della Volpe got in trouble because of an off-hand remark she made. When she made a joke while visiting with the team on Saturday, she made a point of saying, "That was a joke."
Respected softball coach Alexis Davies also was forced out as Chatham High head coach two years ago because of complaints by parents over playing time. She is now the head coach at Hanover Park.