Hoops shakeup: Franza in as coach, district investigating
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Dean of Students Mike Franza has taken over as the head coach of the boys basketball program and hopes to propel the team through the postseason despite last week’s shakeup of the coaching staff. He went as far to say he thought the team could qualify for State.
“Our athletes know this isn’t the norm, but you know, let’s get on with it and give it our best,” Franza said. “My goal is to see the students perform their best.”
Math teacher Patrick Loftus has taken over as the freshman basketball coach. Former head coach Ron Stone and former freshman coach Brandon Hobson were placed on paid administrative leave on Jan. 15 while the Wenatchee School District investigates a “personnel matter,” according to Lisa Turner, the district’s Director of Human Resources.
The Wenatchee World has reported that “lewd text messages” are the reason behind the coaches’ removal with no official sources. Principal Bob Celebrezze declined to comment if that was or was not the reason, deeming any discussion to be “unprofessional.”
The Wenatchee School Board met on Jan. 21 to discuss the personnel issue, board president Laura Jaecks said, regarding an issue that occurred “relating to staff.”
Jaecks said the board is “not at liberty” to make any comments on their closed executive session.
Franza has been the varsity coach at three different high schools prior to assuming the duties as head coach on Jan. 15 at WHS. Athletic Director BJ Kuntz and Celebrezze asked Franza to assume the duties for an undetermined amount of time.
The team is currently second in the league, and through synergy and a focus on teamwork that Franza hopes to provide, he has high hopes for the postseason. “I think our best should take us [to State],” he said.
Franza has “no other contracts” with the district currently, meaning that he won’t receive any additional compensation. He believes that Loftus has the potential to receive additional compensation due to the nature of his contract with the district, but has not so far.
“My opinion of our boys in two days is when we play well, we’re the best team in the league,” Franza said, just hours before coaching his first game as head coach against Sunnyside on Jan. 17.
He is thankful that assistant coach Greg Stevens is still available to provide consistency to the team. “He’s been working with the team and knows his stuff,” Franza said.
The district has not confirmed any further details on the former coaches’ leave.