AP and math assignment resumes; coaching remains suspended

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ON THE FIELD: Rich Schimke has been the head football coach for the Bearcats since 1999. (Photo credit: Lauren Wassam)

Head varsity football coach, AP Stats and IMP 4 teacher Richard Schimke returned to the classroom November 3. According to recent information, he is released to return strictly to teaching, restricted from coaching until further notice.

District higher-ups enforced the paid absence of Schimke from teaching and coaching assignments on Oct. 23 due to an incident involving a player and a bottle of syrup.

The incident and its aftermath have raised questions about teacher-student interactions and whether the district will respond with a heavy hand. Parents have been protesting this week about it along Niblick Road.

According to eyewitness accounts backed by video, Schimke poured syrup into a player’s belly button during a postgame locker room celebration that took place Oct. 14. The event soon after exploded on social media, as well as local news outlets such as the SLO Tribune. Outrage from both ends of the spectrum emerged within these outlets, triggering community-wide response, and the debate of Schimke’s innocence.

The parent of the player involved police and triggered the district to place Schimke on leave.

“Winning football games at the expense of the mental and moral well-being of our children is not only not worth it, but a grave injustice to them,” said the parent on Facebook. “They deserve to have the best examples of honor, integrity, and courage.”

 

The police department, San Luis Obispo District Attorney, and the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District

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SCHIMKE’S DEFENSIVE LINE: Photos of the community rallying for Schimke on November 2, 2016. The community has been rallying for Schimke mostly through social media. (Photo credits: Lauren Wassam and Camden Tucker)

were all notified of the incident from the parent of the player on Oct. 19. PRPD have determined that no crime was committed.

But the ethics of Schimke’s locker room behavior will continue to be investigated by district leaders.

“We are continuing to consider the contents of the video as well as other available information as part of our administrative investigation and internal review.,” reads a statement from Superintendent Chris Williams shared with the media November 1.

“Our district takes concerns and allegations against a member of our staff seriously, and is committed to ensuring that a full and fair investigation is conducted. We hold all staff to a high standard of conduct.”

Superintendent Williams

UNDER REVIEW: Superintendent Williams has stated that the situation will continue to be investigated by the administration. (Photo credit: Lauren Wassam)

Video footage was posted of the incident on the SLO Tribune’s online page Nov. 2.

In the video, Schimke is seen pouring syrup onto a player’s stomach, who is spread on the floor with his back to the ground. The incident took place in a locker room with other cheering teammates gathered around the player, celebrating their recent win. Schimke is seen leaning over the player and dipping his head toward the player’s abdomen to lick the syrup from his navel. It is not clear in the video if Schimke actually made contact with the player.

Schimke’s attorney Bob Bartosh stated Schimke merely pretended to make contact.

Schimke’s players, their parents and the AP statistics students he teaches say that the incident has been vetted and blown out of proportion. PRHS Football parents in particular have taken up a call to action, most clearly spelled out in the Bearcat Varsity Football Parents 2016 Facebook page, with posts and comments accompanied by the hashtag #istandwithschimke, which goes beyond Facebook into Twitter and Instagram. Outcry from parents loyal to Schimke has assailed the page since October 29, six days after Schimke was placed on leave. Posts reflect the opinions of Schimke’s players, parents, and AP statistics students that justice has not been truthfully served, as well as voiced concerns regarding the absence of their teacher in light of upcoming AP tests in the spring.

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PRHS PICKET: People gather along Bearcat Lane across from the high school to protest the leave and allegations against Schimke. Many know the coach personally and all attest to the man’s integrity. (Photo credit: Camden Tucker)

“Unless Coach Schimke is reinstated before our game against our biggest rival this Friday night, every clear thinking person should vote no on Measure M,” reads a post by football mom Debbie Lou Horne, posted on Oct. 31.

For their part, teachers are concerned that the significant achievements of Schimke’s teaching and coaching are not understood or supported by the new administration, according to several who spoke at a meeting Nov. 3.

Assistant coach and English teacher Matt Carroll, the team’s defensive coordinator, continues to serve as an interim head coach during the season’s biggest game against cross-town rival Atascadero HS.
Parents and teachers crowded the November 8 school board meeting to address the board on both sides of the situation.

Crimson’s urge to unite as a community during this time of controversy

editorialphotoPaso Robles High School has been rocked, once again, with allegations of teacher misconduct. However, unlike previous incidents where criminal charges were brought against a teacher, this case was dismissed by the police department. Despite the police findings, school administrative actions continue against the coach and have resulted in a significant show of support by the community for Schimke.

A recap of the event goes like this: The PRHS Bearcats boys locker room was filled with euphoria after a huge 58-14 win against the SLO Tigers. Head coach Richard Schimke, surrounded by the cheering team and assistant coaches, poured maple syrup onto the belly a player and either pretended to or actually did, touch the syrup with his tongue.

Schimke’s attorney, Bob Bartosh, claims that Schimke never put his tongue on the player, and merely pretended to. However, the mother of the athlete says that Schimke dipped his tongue into her son’s belly button.

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PRHS PICKET: People gather along Bearcat Lane across from the high school to protest the leave and allegations against Schimke. Many know the coach personally and all attest to the man’s integrity. (Photo credit: Camden Tucker)

The police department has concluded that no criminal action occurred and while the students of Crimson are in support of PRJUSD’s determination to protect a student, we are not in support of dragging a loved coach, teacher, and family man through a prolonged investigation.

It brings tears to my eyes to see this beloved community brought to its knees once again. There are too many versions of the event details being spread and it is causing too much divisiveness in a community that should respect the decision of the police. We need to unify with a coach who made a poor decision while trying to uphold team camaraderie. If the police department, the students, the coaches, and most importantly- the student involved- all agree that this was not a criminal, moral, or educator issue, then we need to let it rest and let Schimke continue to teach in his classroom, coach his boys, and move forward.

We need to be engaged in the growth and education of students, staff, and athletes on how behavior decisions are often interpreted differently than intended, and sometimes choices made without ill intention are just as detrimental as those that are unwise.

“Ensuring that a full and fair investigation is conducted,” is the goal as written by Superintendent Chris Williams in a letter addressed to the media on November 1.

We are Bearcat Country and we stand with Schimke. WE also stand with our community and want everyone to learn from this, but it was nothing more than a poor choice and it is time to move forward and let Schimke coach.

Paso Robles Unified School District named Larry Grant the new head football coach on Tuesday, Feb. 31, 2017,  for the upcoming season.

Larry Grant takes over as head coach for the football team.

After last year’s controversy, the high school is happy to welcome a passionate man hoping to see the team excel to their full potential.

Grant, born in Sacramento, California, began his semi-professional pathway at the City College of San Francisco. He received many awards for his time there: 2005 National Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year and National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-American, All-State, and All-Conference Honors.

Grant moved his career to the Midwest with a full scholarship to Ohio State University. In 2008 his professional career began by being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. He signed with the St. Louis Rams in 2010, as a starting linebacker.

Grant then found his way back to the 49ers in 2011. He played for the 49ers for two years, including the 2013 Superbowl.

“I am honored and blessed to have the opportunity to coach for an outstanding school district and high school. I look forward to continuing the proud Bearcat traditions and helping to develop these young men to be the best students, athletes, and community members that they can be,” Grant told the Paso Robles Daily News.

Grant’s appointment follows a 20+ year coaching run by former head coach Rich Schimke and his controversial suspension.

“We are excited to welcome Coach Larry Grant to PRHS as our new head varsity football coach. Through the interview process, we learned very quickly that Coach Grant brought a wealth of football knowledge to the table. What stood out the most to me was his high energy and passion for helping student-athletes succeed in the classroom, on the football field, and in their everyday lives,” Paso Robles High School principal Eric Martinez said.

Coach Larry Grant speaks about being new to Paso Robles and his head coach beginning.

Coach Larry Grant attended City College of San Francisco (CCSF) before finishing his career at Ohio State. In 2005, Grant was named Junior College (JUCO) National Player of the Year. He played in four straight national championship games two at CCSF and two at Ohio State. For his entire collegiate career, Grant started 38 of 49 games he played in, registering 244 tackles (162 solos) with 15.5 sacks and

30.5 stops for losses and caused eight fumbles, recovered three others and had nine pass break-ups. He also gained 131 yards on eight interception returns and blocked 15 kicks, returning three blocked punts for a total of 84 yards and a touchdown. Following the season, Grant was named the No. 1 junior college prospect from the state of California by JCGridiron.com.

 

Questions:

Q: You grew up in San Francisco?

A: Yeah, I grew up in the Bay Area but I lived basically everywhere in California, But growing up the majority of my childhood was in the Bay.

Q: When did you start playing football?

A: I’ve basically been playing football my whole life. I didn’t start playing padded and contact until I was a freshman high school. I outweighed everyone as a little kid and there was a weight limit so I couldn’t play as a child.

 

Q: How did you get involved in football?

A: It was easy. Growing up, watching it and being an aggressive kid who liked to tackle. My brothers would beat up on me. Now i’m bigger than them!  Just being a kid, I like to run around, I had so much energy.

Q: Who was a great inspiration to you when you were in high school?

A: Well, I’ve always been an athlete so, I looked up to Jerry Rice. Growing up I was a  Forty-Niner fan and he’s the GOAT, (the greatest of all time). I always looked up to Jerry Rice and I’ve never gotten starstruck my whole life, until I got an opportunity to meet him at the Rookie symposium.  And I’ve only asked my whole for one autograph and it was his. I was nervous, my palms were sweating which never happens because I don’t get nervous. I got his autograph on a little ticket and ended up flying back to northern California and left it on the plane.  The good thing is that I got to meet him more times being that I played for the program that he basically created.

Q: Did you play any other sports?

A: Well in High School I played baseball. I was a center fielder and was pretty good so they say.

Q: Do you plan on going out and watching some baseball games this season?

A: I am! We got a couple guys on the team that play baseball as well and we got to go out and support not just them but every other sport too. We hope to get all sports packed.

Q: What was the NFL like?

A: It was good, it was fun.

Q: Who was your favorite person you met in the NFL?

A: I can’t really just name one name guy! I met so many great guys in my career. I played with future Hall of Famers’, I’ve been in locker rooms with Hall of Famers’ already. I’ve been around a lot of great guys, not only in the league but in college as well. I’ve been around so many great guys and I can’t just pinpoint one guy.  

Q: How did you hear about this job?

A: I was visiting Fresno and there was a gentleman who’s been coaching there a long time. He told me there was a job opening here and I had no idea about Paso and I’d never been here before except for a game we played here last year. I applied for the job and it’s been a blessing for me and my family. I went through an interview process with a panel of about 15 people and I must’ve done some type of good so I’m here now.

 

Q: How long have you been in Paso now?

A: Since the beginning of  February.

 

Q: What do you think of our town so far?

A: I love it. It’s definitely a different city for me. I’m from a big city and have lived in plenty of other big cities as well so it’s a little different for me being in a small town but it’s actually perfect for me and my family. It’s a great place.

Q: Have you started Spring Training yet?

A: Well Spring Training doesn’t start until May 22. But we’ve been training every day at 6:30 in the morning. Guys have been putting work in the freezing cold out here.

 

Q: What are your expectations for this upcoming football season?

A: My expectation is to help these kids reach as many levels as they want to reach. I want to help them be great. We got a great group of guys here and a great program, a great school and a great community. So my expectation is to help it just be better.

 

Q: Is this the first time you’ll be a head coach?

A: First time, so it’s very exciting. It’s gonna be a good time and I hope to see a lot of people out there at the games. We’ve been preparing a lot throughout this off-season and we’re ready to put on a lot of good shows for fans on Friday nights. We got a lot of good guys, so let me tell you to bring your popcorn for a good show.

Q: Being a young head coach what is the benefit that you could bring to the table?

A: You’re calling me young? I feel old! But, I am considered a young guy. But I’ve been  to many places, so my experience  kinda oversees a lot of things that a lot of other people have done. But I’ve been experienced and been around a lot of different types of football and I’ve been around a lot of good people who taught me things as well.

Q: Are there any specific things you are going to change or tweak in the program?

A: We’re not going to change much. A lot of things you’ll see on the field will be different from things you’ve seen before, because you have a different guy here now. And I’ll bring a completely different enthusiasm, attitude, and we’ll just do a lot of things that are fun. It’s gonna be excited for the people watching, it’s gonna be exciting to the players playing in the game.  It’ll be a fun season.

 

Q: Do you have any other hobbies outside coaching?

A: I spend a lot of time with my kids.  Any opportunity I get to travel with my family, we try to do with the best of our ability.

Q: Any final notes?

A: Well,from what I’ve heard we have the best group of fans, the best students, and I’m excited to be around all of you guys. Embrace the change because I’m a new guy here and trust me that the change is gonna be good.  

About The Author

Lauren Wassam is a junior this year and entering her third year with Crimson Newsmagazine. Lauren is Crimson's Photograpy Director and People Co-editor.

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