Mick McCabe: Plymouth Salem girls soccer players do right thing, stand up for their coach

Mick McCabe: Plymouth Salem girls soccer players do right thing, stand up for their coach


Mick McCabe: Plymouth Salem girls soccer players do right thing, stand up for their coach


What do you expect your kid to get out of four years of high school?

(Forget about receiving an athletic scholarship — it ain’t happening.)

Most reasonable parents — is that an oxymoron? — want their kid to earn good enough grades and score high enough on the ACT or SAT to be accepted into a credible college. But there should be more.

How about learning a life lesson or two?

How about something so powerful it will test their character and you can see how they react to the biggest crisis of their young life?

Welcome to Plymouth Salem and the girls on the varsity soccer team, who saw their coach, Scott Duhl, fired after using an improper term while addressing a freshman, whose mother then made it her mission to get the coach fired.

Simply firing a coach is the easy way out for school administrators, who will do seemingly anything to quiet disgruntled parents.

The players were upset, but administrators know it is much easier dealing with a few displeased students than one upset parent.

Well, maybe the Salem girls have taught the school administration a thing or two this spring.

“I learned that if you think that something is wrong, to not just let it go,” said senior captain Olivia Kaye. “You’ve got to stand up for what you believe in and fight for it. I think a lot of people doubted us, but I think we proved that if you work hard enough you can definitely fix what’s wrong.”

And make no mistake about it, Duhl’s firing was terribly wrong. That is why school administrators tried placing the decision on CoachEZ, a third-party contracting agency for coaches, which does not have the authority to order anyone fired.

“No one took blame for what happened,” Kaye said. “It was: ‘Oh, she fired him.’ ‘He fired him.’ ‘They fired him.’ No one said who did what. That was the biggest thing. If you’re not even going to admit what you did, why should it be right?”

It wasn’t right and the players knew it, which fueled their belief in their cause to have Duhl reinstated.

To show their support, Kaye found the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s jersey specifications, made new jerseys with Duhl’s name on the back, and the players wore them to their first home game.

Salem athletic director Tom Willette, who did not return calls from the Free Press for this column, told the players they would be suspended if they wore them again.

The players didn’t wear them in any more games, but they wore them in pregame warm-ups — and refused to let the issue simply go away.

Duhl was finally reinstated for Monday’s game, and the players chuckled when they learned administrators said the reinstatement had nothing to do with their actions.

“They’ve been saying none of this had any effect on their decision, but I definitely think this helped a lot,” Kaye said. “It made sure that it didn’t just go away. We made sure it was fixed.”

Please don’t undervalue what Kaye and her teammates accomplished. Administrators attempted to intimidate them and bully them, and it almost worked.

It didn’t work because Kaye, a defender who will play at Northwood, and others were willing to put everything on the line for their beliefs.

“A lot of people didn’t want to cause any problems because they didn’t want their playing to be in jeopardy because we didn’t know if he was going to be back,” Kaye said. “Personally, I really like Scott and if I’m not going to play because I’m standing up for what I think is right, that’s fine.

“To me, standing up for him and trying to get him back was more important than playing time or soccer. It’s a bigger lesson than that.”

That is what your kid should learn after four years of high school.


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