They say every cloud has a silver lining, which may or may not be true in the long-running saga involving former Davis school board member Nancy Peterson and former Davis High volleyball coach Julie Crawford.
As a result of the school board’s 3-1 vote in closed session late Thursday night, we know two things for sure.
First, we know the district administration’s decision to deny Crawford an opportunity to coach the current boys volleyball team was upheld by that 3-1 vote.
And second, we know that Crawford will be “permitted” to apply for “any future coaching position,” including girls volleyball, which starts up again in late summer. A decision on who will coach the girls presumably will be made before school lets out in June.
The silver lining here is that board members Gina Daleiden and Tim Taylor, at least, seem ready to welcome Crawford back with open arms if some wise school district in search of a talented volleyball coach doesn’t scoop her up first.
Daleiden, the lone dissenting vote on the board, believes Crawford never should have been denied returning as boys coach in the first place. That denial came as the result of an investigation into a formal complaint filed by Nancy Peterson’s husband, Rob, when the Petersons’ daughter failed to make the girls team last fall.
Taylor, who voted with the majority, nevertheless indicated that after meeting Crawford for the first time during closed session, he came away impressed with the young coach’s honesty, sincerity and dedication. He’s now saying that enough is enough.
“I do believe she didn’t intend to hurt anybody,” Taylor told me during a long conversation Saturday afternoon.
“Mistakes were made, but I believe to my core she’s not going to repeat anything. It’s time to move on with a clean bill of health. Julie’s not going to have a sword hanging over her head or a scarlet letter. The slate has been wiped clean and what’s in the past is in the past.”
Not only will Crawford be “permitted” to apply for the girls coaching position, if Taylor has his way she’ll be openly encouraged to do so with every expectation that the job will be hers.
That’s good news for those of us who feel an injustice has been done to this talented coach, who, if she can swallow her pride and forgive her tormentors, may yet return to the Blue Devil fold one day soon.
“That’s entirely her decision, of course,” Taylor added. “But from my standpoint, she’s now back on a level playing field. I don’t see any reason to stretch this out. She’s dedicated and committed and successful and is genuinely interested in kids. Coaching volleyball is her passion. She has great support from the community and from her players, and that’s very encouraging. I’d welcome her back.”
Then again, Crawford already had been approved by her site administrators to coach the current boys volleyball team, but was stopped dead in her tracks by the district administration, including Superintendent Winfred Roberson.
What’s to say all this “welcome back” talk isn’t a charade to placate a community that is clearly angry over what has transpired at our only high school?
Suppose Crawford goes through the motions, applies for the girls job, is approved by her site administrators and is then once again denied at the district level. What then?
“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Taylor offered. “It’s all behind us now. I don’t see why the administration would intercept it. And if they did, the board could overrule it.”
All of which begs the question as to why Crawford isn’t coaching now during the still-early boys volleyball season.
“The boys season is already underway and she was never offered the job prior to the season,” Taylor explained. “The board felt it was best to leave it alone and let this season play out.”
I’ll include myself among those — including Gina Daleiden — who believe Crawford should have been installed as boys coach, even after the season began, but I am encouraged by Taylor’s hope, expressed sincerely, that Crawford will once again be a head coach at Davis High School.
If she leaves, it’s our loss and a sad commentary on the abuse of power in our community.
But if she can forgive and forget, and be a bigger person than her adversaries, we should count our lucky stars.
It’s not a perfect outcome, to be sure, but it’s better than the punch in the gut many of us felt when the board’s decision was announced late Thursday night.
— Reach Bob Dunning at firstname.lastname@example.org