POTTSTOWN, Pennsylvania, July 3. THE new management at the Pottstown YMCA had just about zero clue what it was unleashing when it fired longtime head coach Kathy Cook on June 11. On Wednesday night, after plenty of appeals for Cook to be returned to her position went unheard, the entire Pottstown YMCA swim staff submitted their resignations according to the Mercury News.
Typically in these cases, there’s at least one younger coach looking for an opportunity to get a big bump on their resume by filling in as an interim head coach in hopes for a permanent promotion. And, that works at times for some. But, the entire coaching staff that includes Amy Agnew, Mark Agnew, Bill Draves, Catherine Fink, Michele Bauer, Alex Diehl, Andrew Piasecki and John Zimmerman as well as Stacey Filippini and Mark Ottinger terminated their employment as part of a push to shed light on the situation.
The coaches had a single letter of resignation addressed to Pottstown YMCA Executive Director Dan Albert explaining their side of the story:
“Your firing of our head coach Kathy Cook as well as the many inconsistencies voiced by you since the beginning of your tenure at the former Pottstown Family YMCA have left us with a severe distrust of your leadership and of the Philadelphia YMCA’s leadership. We cannot return to the YMCA to coach another year knowing that you and your superiors do not support our program,” the letter states.
“We have been appalled and deeply grieved by what has happened to one of the hardest-working employees the YMCA has ever had. Not only did Kathy devote years of service to the YMCA for little compensation without complaint, but also Kathy has had a tremendous impact on the local Pottstown community and the swimming community across the region. We have been angered at the lack of interest and support you have shown to our swim program that has brought in a diverse array of swimmers from Pottstown and the surrounding communities. We have helped many kids and families build bonds that will last a lifetime, and, in turn, we have established our own bonds with those families and within our own coaching staff.”
Following the mass resignation, Mark Agnew spoke with the Mercury News about the situation.
“We decided we had to resign based on the direction the Y is headed, that we can no longer coach here because they no longer stand behind the values that they established as an organization. They demonstrated that when they let Kathy go,” Mark Agnew told the Mercury News. “It is absolutely related to the way they treated Kathy, and then firing her the way they fired her.”
Agnew also explained that the issues began last year when Freedom Valley YMCA “was taken over by the Philadelphia YMCA.” Very quickly after that, the new management began streamlining jobs, and fired the aquatics director at Pottstown. Those responsibilities landed on Cook’s plate with no prior training in how to handle that type of work.
The most upsetting part about the firing is that Cook had just led Pottstown YMCA to its first state title at the 2014 YMCA Pennsylvania State Swimming Championnhips, and was named the YMCA National Coach of the Year.
At this point, the YMCA management is not commenting on the situation, stating that it doesn’t comment on personnel matters.
The YMCA likely will lose the club in the process as squad is now looking at transitioning into a full-fledged USA Swimming club.